Teeth grinding, also referred to as bruxism, is much more common than you may think. Some people grind their teeth and are not even aware that they are doing so. I have had some patients respond in disbelief when I tell them they are grinding their teeth. However, in examinations, I can observe tell-tale signs of teeth grinding.
Indications of teeth grinding
There is visible evidence of teeth grinding such as excessive wear on teeth. This includes cracks, chips, or loose teeth. There are other signs of teeth grinding such as:
Sore jaw. You tighten your jaw muscles when you grind or clench your teeth. Doing this repeatedly at night can cause you to wake up with a sore jaw.
Headaches. The pain from your jaw created by the clenching then travels to other places in the skull, causing headaches or, in severe cases, migraines.
Your partner notices it at night. Your partner may hear you grinding your teeth at night. It could even be loud enough to wake your partner.
Tooth sensitivity or pain. Bruxism can be a cause of aching teeth. However, aching teeth can have different causes such as tooth decay. Therefore, if you are experiencing pain or sensitivity, contact us so we can properly diagnose the problem.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
There is no one cause for teeth grinding and it is not entirely known why people grind their teeth. But some factors can lead to teeth grinding. These include:
Stress and anxiety
An abnormal bite
Missing or crooked teeth
Medical conditions. For example Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)
Teeth Grinding Can Damage your Teeth
No matter the cause, dentists address chronic teeth grinding because it can cause damage to the teeth and other problems. Chronic teeth grinding can result in fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. In worse cases, severe damage to teeth can require bridges, crowns, root canals, or implants to repair the damaged teeth.
Solutions to Teeth Grinding
By far, the best solution to protecting teeth from teeth grinding is to wear a nightguard. A night guard is a removable mouthpiece that is typically worn by the patient during sleep, to protect his teeth and jaws from the damage that is caused by the habit. You can find commercially sold night guards but these are not custom-made to your mouth. I have found patients do much better with a nightguard that is specifically fitted to their mouth.
Step 1: We make an impression of your mouth. A plaster cast is created from the impression.
Step 2: A dental laboratory uses the plaster cast to make your custom night guard. Once made, the laboratory checks it using the mold to ensure it will fit properly. Fine adjustments are made if necessary.
Step 3: The dental lab delivers your night guard to us. We will then contact you so that you can come and pick it up and we can ensure it fits properly. Your night guard comes with a case so that you can properly store it when it is not in use.
In addition to wearing a nightguard, here are some tips to lessen your teeth grinding:
Cut down or remove caffeinated drinks. Caffeine has been known to increase teeth grinding.
Limit alcohol as alcohol consumption can intensify teeth grinding.
Do not chew gum. If your jaw muscles are sore from teeth grinding, chewing gum will only further aggravate those muscles.
Relax your jaw muscles at night by applying a warm, moist compress before you go to bed.
Grinding teeth is not something you want to ignore. The longer the condition goes untreated, the more damage it can do to your teeth. So, if you know or suspect you are grinding your teeth, contact us now so we can schedule you for a proper examination. You can help save yourself from the heartache and cost of repairing damaged teeth from teeth grinding.
Dr. Nahid Afshari Fair Oaks Quality Dental