Can Teeth Grinding Lead to More Serious Issues?
Many men and women are chronic teeth grinders; unfortunately, the majority of these individuals do not realize it until the damage has already been done. Bruxism is the medical term used for teeth grinding and jaw clenching, which, when not addressed, can result in dental damage.
How Do I Know If I Grind My Teeth?
Most people are unaware that they grind their teeth because it occurs involuntarily when they are sleeping. Grinding your teeth causes chronic headaches, facial or jaw pain, and worn tooth enamel that can turn into tooth fracture or loss. Eventually, the wear and tear will go deeper, and you may feel as though your teeth are shortening. If unchecked, you can grind your teeth down to the dentin level, and when this occurs, you may be on your way to tooth loss. If you suspect that bruxism may be an issue for you, you need to seek treatment right away so that you can address the problem before you lose any teeth.
What Causes Bruxism?
Everyone grinds their teeth, whether they are six or 96 years old. The origin of bruxism is still unknown, but it is not a disease and it is not hereditary. However, we do know that teeth grinding gets worse when sleep quality is negatively affected. Additional risk factors include stress, anxiety, and frustration. Those that are chronically stressed or agitated are more likely to grind their teeth than those with a more relaxed personality and outlook. Antidepressants, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and caffeine may also increase your risk of bruxism. However, in the end, the quality of your sleep is what has the biggest impact on teeth grinding.
How Can I Prevent Bruxism-Related Dental Damage?
For those whose bruxism is caused by an external factor like smoking, alcohol, or caffeine, stopping those may be enough to prevent teeth grinding. For patients whose bruxism is caused by stress or anxiety, working to rid yourself of stress through meditation, yoga, and other calming activities may help. Unfortunately, bruxism cannot always be prevented, especially if it is caused by genetics. While the act itself may not be able to be stopped, the damage caused by bruxism can. The best way to protect yourself from grinding damage is to wear a mouth guard. Mouth guards can be purchased at any drug store, or your dentist can fit you with a customized mouth guard that will protect your bite perfectly. Wearing a night guard will not stop you from grinding your teeth, but it will help prevent damage.
What If Damage Has Already Been Done?
As previously established, most people are unaware of their bruxism until there is tooth damage. Bonding or porcelain veneers can help lengthen teeth that have been worn down while bridges and dental implants can repair tooth loss. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or are witnessing unexplainable chipping or shortening of the teeth, see your dentist right away. The effects of bruxism-related damage will get worse if they are not treated.