When you chew, there are about 30-40 pounds of pressure put on your teeth. If you grind your teeth, that pressure can increase to 250 pounds. Yikes! It’s no wonder that people who suffer from regular teeth grinding (or bruxism) often experience excruciating toothaches, dental damage, and jaw pain.
In many cases, a person doesn’t know that they grind their teeth because it typically happens during sleep. A family member, roommate, or spouse will usually complain about the loud sound keeping them up at night. In some cases, a dentist can diagnose teeth grinding just by looking at the patient's mouth and hearing about their symptoms.
If you suspect you suffer from teeth grinding, or if you’ve recently been diagnosed with bruxism, here are three things you should know:
1. There are many reasons for teeth grinding.
Bruxism isn’t something that just happens–there is always a cause. You may suffer from teeth grinding due to one or more of these reasons:
- Too much caffeine
- An abnormal bite (malocclusion)
- Crooked teeth
- Missing teeth
Pay attention to your habits and how you feel when you wake up in the morning. Ask yourself these questions:
- Did you drink coffee later in the afternoon the day before?
- Have you been stressed about something in particular?
- Have you recently lost a tooth?
- Do your bite suddenly feel off?
- Have your anxiety levels been higher than usual?
The answers to these questions will help you determine what’s causing you to grind your teeth. When you visit the dentist, he or she will ask questions as well to help get to the root of the issue. Once the cause has been determined, your dentist will create a plan to protect your teeth from damage and reduce your risk of continued teeth grinding.
2. Without treatment, you might suffer some serious consequences.
Those 250 pounds of pressure can significantly and negatively impact your teeth, gums, jaws, and overall health. Six of the most common consequence of teeth grinding include:
- Tooth damage. Consistently rubbing teeth together with intense force can quickly and easily wear down and weaken the enamel and entire tooth structure. This causes the teeth to become sensitive to hot and cold substances, chip, crack, and loosen.
- Damage to previous dental work. Fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures can’t handle the pressure of teeth grinding. These will likely crack, chip, or break, and need to be replaced.
- Pain. Teeth grinding causes pain in the teeth, jaws, facial muscles, and ears.
- TMJ disorder. The jaw joints and muscles may suffer serious damage, leading to temporomandibular joint disorder. This causes difficulty chewing, talking, and swallowing.
- Gum recession. As the teeth loosen and shift, pockets of bacteria will develop along the gum line, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth.
- Headaches. People who grind their teeth often suffer from frequent migraines and tension headaches.
To avoid these consequences, seek professional treatment as soon as you experience symptoms of teeth grinding.
3. Dentists offer several treatment options to protect your teeth and help you stop teeth grinding.
Treatment for bruxism should include two things: a way to protect your teeth from damage and addressing the underlying issue.
When you visit your local dentist, he or she will thoroughly examine your mouth for signs of teeth grinding, discuss your symptoms, determine the cause, and evaluate the extent of the bruxism.
Based on your dentist's findings, he or she will recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Mouthguard: fits over the upper or lower teeth to prevent damage caused by clenching or grinding the teeth
- Dental restorations: crowns, bridges, or fillings used to correct damage done by teeth grinding
- Braces: to correct dental misalignment or malocclusion that could cause teeth grinding
- Stress and anxiety management: to address underlying issues that could be the reason for teeth grinding
- Muscle relaxants: taken before bedtime to relax the jaw muscles and reduce the risk of bruxism
- Botox injections: also used to relax the jaw muscles for long periods of time
- Treatment for other medical conditions: patients may be referred to sleep doctors or general practitioners to address issues like sleep apnea, GERD, anxiety, and ADHD.
Start Your Journey Toward Teeth Grinding Prevention and Pain Relief Today
If you suffer from bruxism, don’t wait any longer to seek treatment. An experienced dentist can spot the damage done by teeth grinding and create a customized plan to help protect your smile and relieve the pain caused by bruxism. Call our team today to schedule an initial consultation and discuss your teeth grinding treatment options.