What is teeth grinding and why is it a concern?

teeth grindingMillions of Americans grind their teeth, many without even realizing it. Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding can cause tooth degradation and excessive wearing down, and also lead to TMJ disorders, and other tooth and jaw problems. If you find yourself experiencing jaw discomfort and believe teeth grinding may be the cause, be sure to see us to determine the cause and recommend treatment options.

What are the causes of teeth grinding?

Many dental conditions can contribute to teeth grinding, including:

  • Malocclusion (improper alignment of the teeth)
  • TMJ Disorder, also known as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)
  • Anxiety, stress, tension, or even certain medications like SSRIs (Prozac, Celexa, etc.)
  • Parkinson’s Disease or Huntington’s Chorea

What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?

Because many people grind their teeth in their sleep, it can be difficult to know if you suffer from bruxism. There are, however, a few tell-tale signs to watch for and your dentist will check for these signs each time you come in for a visit. These include:

  • Dull, constant headache, particularly when you wake up
  • Sore jaw or earache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Worn, flattened or chipped teeth
  • Damaged tissue on the inside of your cheek

What treatments are available to relieve teeth grinding?

Treatment begins with simple at-home lifestyle changes, including: avoiding caffeine and alcohol, avoiding chewing on anything that is not food (pen tips for example), training yourself to stop grinding with instructions from your dentist, and relaxing your jaw muscle.

If you continue to experience symptoms, it’s time to talk to us about the following options:

Night Guard
A simple mouth guard worn while you sleep may prevent teeth grinding. Your guard will be custom-made to fit snugly over your teeth. Worn at night, your mouth guard will prevent your upper and lower teeth from coming into contact and grinding against each other.

Teeth Reshaping
Misaligned bites can contribute to teeth grinding. If your teeth do not come into contact properly, reshaping them will not only prevent teeth grinding, but also alleviate other symptoms you’ve probably been experiencing. Teeth reshaping can be accomplished a number of ways, including using: invisible braces, dental crowns, dental implants, and other orthodontic treatments. You and your dentist can work together to determine the best course of action for your condition.