Most people grind their teeth once in a while and occasional teeth grinding, also referred to as “Bruxism”, doesn’t always cause problems. If grinding is a consistent problem, the teeth can end up damaged and additional oral health complications can occur.
Why People Grind Their Teeth
While grinding your teeth can be the result of stress and anxiety, it can also be caused by sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Some of the most common reasons that people grind their teeth is if they have crooked or missing teeth or an abnormal bite. Grinding usually occurs during sleep.
Side Effects of Grinding Your Teeth
People who grind their teeth often wake up to pain in their teeth, jaw, face and neck. Unfortunately, complications brought on by chronic teeth grinding are often more than only short-term effects. Over time, the tendency to clench the jaw can result in damages that end up influencing the appearance of the teeth as well. This may also lead to TMJ dysfunction, a problem that can trigger frequent and intense headaches, migraines, etc. Earaches can also occur because the temporomandibular joint structures are located so close to the ear canal. Sufferers may also experience referral pain, a condition that causes someone to feel pain in a different location than the actual source.
Additional Dental Problems of Grinding Your Teeth
Excessive grinding will wear down teeth, shortening or fracturing them, damaging the occlusal surfaces, especially the molars. Clenching and grinding the teeth also puts pressure on the tissues, muscles and other structural areas around the jaw, leading to jaw stiffness and pain. Additional dental problems caused by grinding include broken, loose or sensitive teeth, sore gums, and popping or clicking jaw joints.
Addressing the Underlying Cause
If you’re grinding your teeth excessively you’ll need to address the underlying cause. Treatments vary depending on the core problem and includes managing stress, behavior therapies, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, dealing sleep apnea, etc. You’ll also need to consult with an orthodontist.
If grinding has already had an impact on the condition of the teeth, an orthodontist will be able to help, starting with a bruxism evaluation to determine the extent of the damage. Once they’ve accessed the damage they can help treat it with solutions that include creating a custom fitted night guard that distributes the pressure of grinding away from the jaw joints, lessening the pain, headaches and dental problems. Oral appliances can also help realign crooked teeth and even reshape chewing surfaces. Braces may be required and in more severe cases, oral surgery may need to be performed.
If you or a loved one have a problem with grinding teeth, it’s important to address it right away. There are several management techniques that can be used, including night guards mentioned above and E&S Orthodontics can help. Don’t wait until the damage gets any worse.