If you think you grind your teeth at night, your oral health could be at risk. Teeth grinding, also known as “bruxism,” is more than just a bad habit. It can be seriously harmful to your oral health. So in this blog from Del Mar Dental Studio, we’ll take a look at teeth grinding, discuss how it can affect your oral health, and give you some tips on how to recognize and deal with teeth grinding. Let’s get started.
What Is Teeth Grinding? Understanding The Basics
Teeth grinding (bruxism) refers to an uncontrolled gnashing, clenching, and grinding of the teeth. Normally, the upper and lower teeth only make contact when you’re chewing food. But if you grind your teeth, either during the day or at night, the upper and lower rows of teeth will constantly be in contact.
Teeth grinding can happen during the day or at night. Daytime grinding is usually caused by stress, anxiety, concentration, or tension. It may happen unconsciously, but you can relax your jaw to stop grinding your teeth.
Nighttime grinding is more difficult to deal with. Dentists are still not 100% sure what causes it, and it’s estimated to affect around 9% of the population. Since you’re not awake, you can’t consciously stop grinding your teeth.
How Does Teeth Grinding Cause Dental Issues?
Teeth grinding puts lots of strain on your jaw and facial muscles. This can lead to aching and pain, and even contribute to TMJ/TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), as well as similar jaw conditions. This is particularly common if your bite is not perfect, since the pressure of teeth grinding may put excessive pressure on one side of your mouth.
Grinding also wears down your teeth. Continual tooth-to-tooth contact can flatten your teeth, weaken them, and cause tooth pain. This strain can also damage existing dental work like crowns and fillings. Over time, these may loosen or fall out, leading to a higher risk of developing cavities. In severe cases, excessive grinding may crack or break your teeth.
Do I Grind My Teeth? Common Signs & Symptoms
If you think you may grind your teeth, there are a few signs and symptoms you can look out for:
- Facial and jaw pain – This is particularly noticeable when you wake up in the morning, and may fade throughout the day.
- Flattened or damaged teeth – If your teeth look flat or worn, this may be a sign of teeth grinding. Dentists may also be able to identify chips, damage, or even cracks caused by tooth grinding.
- Damage to dental work – Premature wear to fillings, crowns, and other dental work could indicate teeth grinding.
- Tooth sensitivity – Grinding teeth can wear down enamel, and also puts lots of strain on the ligaments below your teeth. This can lead to sensitivity.
How Can I Prevent Dental Issues From Teeth Grinding?
The best way to protect your teeth is to wear a night guard. Night guards are made of plastic, and are custom-fitted to cushion and protect your teeth from direct contact. By preventing contact between the lower and upper teeth, night guards can prevent dental issues like damage to your teeth.
Certain lifestyle changes are also thought to help reduce teeth grinding, such as de-stressing, maintaining a good work-life balance, exercising, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine.
Do You Grind Your Teeth? Get Help From Del Mar Dental Studio Today!
If you grind your teeth in Del Mar, Dr. Todd Pizzi is here to help. With a custom night guard and treatment plan, you can prevent dental issues caused by teeth grinding, get relief from pain, and maintain a healthy mouth. Contact us online or give us a call at (858) 755-0187 to get the help you need.