Teeth grinding and clenching of your jaw while you sleep can create serious problems with your oral health, including bite misalignment, cracked or chipped teeth, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Some common signs that you grind your teeth during sleep are chronic headaches upon waking, shoulder and neck pain or a sensation that your jaw locks up when opening and closing your mouth.

Identifying the Cause

After a thorough dental examination by the Santa Monica, CA family dentist we can determine what the probable cause of your teeth grinding is and which treatment approach may be necessary to prevent long-term damage to your teeth. There are several reasons people grind or clench their teeth (also referred to as bruxing or bruxism):

  • Injury or trauma to the temporomandibular joint.
  • Misaligned dental bite
  • Muscle tension

A misaligned dental bite can cause your back teeth to become unbalanced, resulting in excess force being placed on one side of your mouth. In this case, you do not bite down evenly on all teeth, and the jaw shift from its normal position to bring the rest of your teeth together.

This action causes you to clench or grind your teeth on that side of your mouth and puts constant, unnatural force on the joint and surrounding muscles. This is why you experience head and neck pain.

Simple, Non-Invasive Treatment

In many cases, the Santa Monica, CA family dentist can create a simple custom appliance called a night guard that will reduce this uneven force on your teeth. However, a thorough exam is the best way to assess your situation and determine the underlying cause and best treatment for your teeth grinding and clenching.

If you believe that your symptoms may be caused by teeth grinding, please contact our office. We will discuss your symptoms and work with you to determine the best course of treatment that will address your needs and provide relief.


Veneers or Braces?

by Dr. Follette

Dr. Carol E. Follette DDS specializes in finding the cosmetic dentistry solution that’s right for you. Even if your teeth are completely healthy, there still might be some other issues that you want to deal with. Whether you want your teeth to be brighter or fix the gaps between them, there are a variety of methods that can help you out. Veneers and braces are both common solutions that could be better equipped to deal with different cosmetic problems. Here's a look at how they compare and which one would work best in your specific situation.


Braces are made up of metal brackets, wires, a bonding agent, and rubber bands that all work together to try and straighten out your teeth, fixing gaps in the process. They can be an incredibly effective way to get a straight smile, but it takes some work to get there. Braces can be on for months or years, depending on your particular needs. The metal in your mouth could irritate you and make it harder to eat certain types of foods. You'll also have to go in for appointments to get your braces adjusted as a part of the treatment process.

If you're patient, don't mind the look of metal braces, and aren't worried about a treatment that takes a while, they could be an effective way to get the smile you've always wanted. They can also help improve your bite, which can make you more comfortable and help you avoid some other issues later on. Braces aren't exactly inexpensive, but they are less expensive than veneers. If price is an important consideration for you, that's something to keep in mind. Invisible braces are also an option, but they're not ideal for every cosmetic issue.


Veneers are attached to your teeth in a way that creates an entire new smile. They cover up any imperfections you might have. We're talking about discolored teeth, small gaps, and even cracked teeth. Veneers can help you change a tooth's size, position, shape, or color. Going to an experiencedveneers dentist can help you deal with all of your current cosmetic issues. Veneers also look just like dental enamel, so it won't be obvious that you've had a procedure done unless you actually tell people.

Veneers end up becoming a permanent solution for any of your cosmetic issues with your teeth. They're not a short-term treatment like braces. Instead they can stay on your teeth for years and years with minimal upkeep. In some cases, veneers can last up to fifteen years. Just remember that certain foods and beverages, like coffee, can end up discoloring your veneers over time.

Getting veneers is actually a rather quick process. Dentists figure out what your veneers have to look like and what size they need to be. It takes a few days to get the customcosmetic dentistry solution that you need, and then it's a quick procedure to apply them. With the help of our practice, it can take less time than you'd think to get that perfect smile!



We understand that, for most people, there’s no dental procedure as anxiety-producing as a root canal.

In fact, some people get so nervous when faced with the prospect of a root canal that they forgo treatment altogether. But if you are in pain and you put off treatment, it will continue to worsen, and ultimately the tooth will need to be removed.

But you should know that root canal treatment with Santa Monica family dentist Dr. Carol Follette is generally no more complicated than a procedure such as fillings or crowns.

If your dentist recommends root canal treatment, don’t let misinformation about the procedure keep you from following through. We offer gentle treatment from a caring team, and if you need a little help with relaxing, we also offer calming sedation options as well.

Why Do I Need a Root Canal?

Root canal therapy is used to remove the infection or extensive decay from the interior of the tooth. The space inside the tooth where the pulp and main nerve are found is called the root canal.

If you already have an infection in the root of your tooth, delaying a root canal allows the infection to spread to your jawbone or nearby teeth. If the tooth continues to decay, there will not be enough hard tissue left for a successful root canal and the tooth will probably need to be removed.

What Happens during the Procedure?

During the procedure, your dentist removes infected, decayed or damaged pulp, as well as the nerve of the tooth. The root canal is then sterilized and filled with medication to speed healing. A crown is then placed over the tooth for protection and stability.

How Does a Root Canal Benefit Me?

Root canal therapy allows the structure of the tooth to remain intact, even though the nerve has been removed. Although the tooth no longer contains nerve tissue it is still usable for chewing. Also, because the tooth is left intact, it maintains its proper position, helping to preserve proper spacing between remaining teeth and keeping your bite alignment correct.

If you suspect you need a root canal or have a question you don’t see here, please contact our your Santa Monica family dentist for additional information or if you have any questions about root canals and how they can help save a damaged tooth.