Here are some of the facts you should know about bruxism, its causes and potentially harmful effects:
- Grinding your teeth, if done hard enough and often enough, can gradually wear the enamel off your crowns. This, in turn, may cause cavities, broken/chipped teeth, tooth hypersensitivity, or even tooth loss down the road.
- Kids grind their teeth more than adults do, but they usually outgrow it by their teens. But adults may start up the habit late in life, and bruxism also can "run in the family."
- Stress is a major cause of bruxism, but tooth misalignment, genetics, and highly "competitive" personality types can also predispose you to it. In other cases, too much caffeine or heavy smoking may be the cause. And with some, it's nothing more than a nervous habit that, with a little effort, they can kick.
- Teeth clenching/grinding can lead to TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder occurs when the joints in your lower jaw suffer damage, leading to jaw pain, headaches, or even ear aches. Many periodontists can help treat TMJ disorder.
- Many people who grind their teeth aren't even aware they are doing it because they do it at night, while asleep. A spouse, therefore, often reports the problem when they keep hearing a grinding noise every night.
Grinding your teeth can lead to many tell-tale signs that can let you know you are doing it even if you're doing it while asleep. These symptoms include:
- Unexplained head and ear aches, especially just after you wake up in the morning.
- Pain on your face and in the joints of your lower jawbone. Or, a swollen or tense jaw can even result.
- You or your partner are woken up at night by an unusual grinding sound.
- Your teeth are noticeably more sensitive to hot/cold temperatures of late.
- High stress, and an inability to get to sleep at night for very long before waking up again.
- Some of your teeth are looking worn down a bit on the crown, flatter. Or, you may even suddenly see small tooth chips or fractures.
- There are tooth bite marks on your tongue (and no one else put them there!)
- You discover chew/bite marks on your inner cheeks.
Treating Chronic Teeth Grinding
What can you do about it if you are a chronic teeth grinder? In some cases, you may simply be able to exert a little will power, change up your diet (less caffeine or no coffee past noon), or kick teeth grinding like any other bad habit.
But sometimes, it will take more than that, and your dentist or periodontist can help.
One major solution is to get a custom-formed night-time-only mouthguard from your dentist. This will prevent your grinding your teeth while sleeping but will be comfortable to wear because it fits the contours of your mouth/teeth.
Another trick to use during the day is to put your tongue between your teeth to keep them apart and try to relax your jaw. Or, any number of stress-reducing techniques may help. To learn more about bruxism, in Volusia and Flagler Counties, FL, contact Dr. Kenzik today!