Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can occur due to many reasons. Common causes are an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth and stress.
Often people have no idea they are grinding their teeth since it commonly happens during sleep. If grinding goes unnoticed for a long time, it can lead to severe damage and pain. The earlier you identify the problem, the faster you can protect your teeth against grinding.
Signs of teeth grinding
Because teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw often occurs during sleep, you may not realize the damage you are doing. That said, there are signs of grinding.
- Chipped, fractured or loose teeth
- Enamel that is worn down
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Tight, tired jaw muscles
- Soreness in the pain, jaw or neck
- Bites on the inside of the cheek
- Waking up with a headache that starts in the temple
- Disturbed sleep patterns
Many people do not realize they grind until a friend or family member tells them. If a loved one says you bite your teeth during sleep, you may be grinding.
Is teeth grinding harmful?
Teeth grinding can damage teeth when left untreated. The constant grinding wears down the teeth and can lead to fractures and even tooth loss. However, your teeth are not the only thing that suffers.
Grinding affects the jaw and can cause problems in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This condition can lead to painful chewing, popping noises and stiffness in the jaw.
The constant grinding, wearing of teeth, stress on the jaw and tooth loss can significantly change the facial structure as well.
Bruxism is medically and aesthetically harmful. It is a disorder that needs to be addressed by a dentist.
Can teeth grinding be cured?
Teeth grinding is a symptom of another condition. Once you identify the cause of grinding, your dentist can recommend the best way to treat it.
Clenching teeth while awake may often be emotional and require coping strategies, relaxation or counseling. When the grinding occurs during sleep, it is important to be tested for a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
No two people are alike, so there is not a single solution for grinding.
Simple treatments can include stress management, changing sleeping habits and learning relaxation techniques. For medical issues, you may need braces to correct an improper bite or other dental problem.
In the meantime, ask your dentist for a mouth guard to wear while sleeping. This will not stop the grinding, but it can protect your teeth from damage. Learn to relax before bed and pay attention to anything that may be causing stress.
Speak with a dentist
Teeth grinding can ruin a perfect smile. While you can find ways to manage your stress at home, seeing a dentist for evaluation is one of the best ways to treat this bad habit.
Call our office and schedule an appointment. The dentist can work with you to find what is causing the grinding and develop a treatment plan to keep your smile safe.