Many people grind their teeth for a variety of reasons ranging from stress to night-time issues to tobacco chewing. One constant that can be said for all of the varieties of teeth grinding is that none of it is good for your teeth, and you should seek the advice of a dentist to attempt to minimize or stop it.
Understanding Teeth Grinding
You may think teeth grinding, technically called bruxism , is a non-serious condition, however it has been proven that ongoing teeth grinding not only takes a toll on your teeth enamel, but also can have long-term effects on your oral health and TMJ joint.
What is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding is the physical act of rubbing your teeth together in a strong motion, either while asleep or awake. For the most part, teeth grinding happens at night as a result of a stressful life, or possibly teeth which are misaligned and are causing discomfort. Although it does effect some people during the day, most of the cases of teeth grinding are a result of unconscious activity at night resulting from stress. Most people are unaware that they are grinding their teeth at night, and the fact only becomes aware to them after they have been diagnosed by a dentist. Some symptoms that you can look for to possibly diagnose teeth grinding are the following:
- Jaw pain
- Damaged tooth enamel
A dentist only can confirm that teeth grinding is causing the problem and recommend you with an appropriate treatment method.
While it is usually quite easy for a dentist to see that a person grinds their teeth simply by observing the worn enamel, the underlying causes of the grinding are more difficult to diagnose and treat. Most dentists are trained to treat the physical causes of grinding, like misaligned teeth which are causing discomfort, there is always the potential that the lifestyle of the patient is causing mental issues that are resulting in the grinding. One physical possibility is malocclusion (teeth misalignment). When the teeth are misaligned, great pressure can be placed on the teeth and gums that can result in you grinding your teeth out of discomfort.
Mental issues that result in teeth grinding are usually stress-related, and will probably result in the dentist referring you to a doctor more specialized in dealing with mental issues, if the standard methods of stress reduction are not effective.
The treatment procedure that the dentist will choose to deal with the teeth grinding will be determined by the underlying cause as well as how severe the damage is. In all cases, prevention of further damage is the main focus. A clear device called a nightguard that is fitted over the front teeth can prevent teeth grinding. These devices are available from a dentist and over-the-counter, however it is always suggested that nightguards be obtained from a dentist as a good fit is necessary in order to reduce further complications or further stress.
The dentist will perform an examination of the teeth and gums to check for evidence of teeth grinding. If there is malocclusion, the dentist will recommend a treatment that will result in the re-alignment of the teeth(Ortho-treatment). Chronic teeth grinding may cause tooth enamel to become worn down so much that it is in the best interest of the patient to have reconstructive dental surgery.
The significance of any symptoms related to teeth grinding should not be ignored. While it doesn’t usually result in severe damage, it can damage the teeth and require costly reconstructive work later on. People who grind their teeth are susceptible to developing a more sever condition called temporomanibular joint disorder (TMJ), which involves severe jaw pain, as well as, tissue and joint damage.