Many people grind and clench their teeth. Medically referred to as bruxism, occasional teeth grinding does not typically cause harm. However, when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, it can damage the teeth and cause other oral health complications.
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
Although teeth grinding can be a byproduct of stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is most likely the result of an abnormal bite or crooked or missing teeth. Sleep disorders may also trigger teeth grinding (e.g., sleep apnea).
What are the Signs of Teeth Grinding?
Most people don’t know that they grind their teeth because grinding often occurs during sleep. However, a dull, constant headache or soreness in the jaw when you awake is an indication of bruxism. Sometimes, people learn that they grind their teeth from a loved one who may hear the grinding during the night.
If you are grinding your teeth, consult your dentist, and have your mouth and jaw examined for signs of bruxism, which include excessive wear on your teeth and tenderness of the jaw.
Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?
Sometimes, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fractured, loosened, or lost tooth. Also, chronic teeth grinding can wear teeth down to stumps. If any of these events happen, you may need bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, or even complete dentures to repair the damage.
Not only can severe grinding damage the teeth, but it can also result in tooth loss, affect your jaws, worsen or cause temporomandibular disorders and possibly even alter your face’s appearance.
What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?
Talk to your dentists and get fitted for a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding as you sleep. However, if stress is the culprit of your teeth grinding, consult your dentist about options to alleviate stress. Participating in stress counseling, adopting an exercise program, working with a physical therapist, or using a prescription muscle relaxant are some of the possible options that may be useful. Also, if your teeth grinding is the result of a sleep disorder, treating the condition may reduce or eliminate the grinding.
You might also consider trying some of the following suggestions:
- Avoid or reduce the intake of foods and drinks that contain caffeine (e.g., chocolate, coffee, and some sodas).
- Avoid alcohol consumption. Grinding may intensify after drinking alcohol.
- Do not chew anything that is not edible (e.g., pens and pencils). Also, avoid chewing gum because it causes your jaw muscles to become accustomed to clenching, making you more susceptible to teeth grinding.
- You should train yourself not to grind your teeth or clench your jaw. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
- Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
Aesthetic Dental Clinique wants you to enjoy healthy teeth for life. If you think you may be grinding your teeth, schedule an appointment and visit our family dental locations in Southfield or Detroit, Michigan.