It is normal for people to grind or clench their teeth (bruxism) from time to time, but for some people, frequent or constant grinding and/or clenching can have serious repercussions. Habitual bruxism can damage teeth and cause painful side effects.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Grinding and clenching of the teeth is often caused by stress and anxiety. Most bruxism occurs at night during sleep and can be caused by an improper bite, missing teeth or even sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
• Fatigue or pain in the facial muscles
• Dull headache
• Worn tooth surfaces
• Gum recession
• Erosion of tooth enamel at the gumline
Consequences of Grinding or Clenching Teeth
Habitual bruxism causes severe, prolonged pressure on your teeth and gums. Over time, the teeth can become worn down and very short. Gum tissue can receded severely, causing teeth to become loose or lost. Constant stress on the facial muscles can cause chronic headaches or even TMJ dysfunction. Over time, the stress from grinding can cause teeth to chip, fracture or erode.
Treatment of Bruxism
If you grind and clench during the day, being aware of the habit will help you modify your behavior and reduce daytime clenching. In some cases, special therapy may be needed in order to break the habit. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which cause intensified bruxism. Don’t chew on pencils, pen caps, or other items.
If you grind and clench your teeth during sleep, your dentist can make a custom fitted mouth guard which will reduce the force of bruxism and protect teeth from damage. Relax your jaw and facial muscles with massage and/or moist heat prior to sleep.
Your Dentist Can Help With Teeth Grinding
The most effective protection against nocturnal bruxism is wearing a dental nightguard. Your dentist can evaluate your symptoms and recommend a course of treatment designed to prevent bruxism and protect your teeth and gums. Learn more about bruxism or schedule an appointment for a dental nightguard today.