Teeth Grinding: What You Need to Know

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is surprisingly common. It can wreak havoc on your teeth and cause a variety of painful symptoms. Bruxism often happens during sleep, as well as when concentrating on a task or lifting something heavy. Some people don’t realize that they are grinding their teeth, while others are acutely aware. Regardless, here is what you need to know.

Symptoms

Teeth grinding is often, though not always, linked to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). Consequently, the two conditions share many of the same symptoms. The disorder is highly individualized, but most people who grind their teeth will experience some or all of the following:

  • Earaches
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Fractured teeth
  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain or tension
  • Painful teeth or gums
  • Sleep problems
  • Stiffness in the neck or shoulders
  • Unusually large facial muscles
  • Worn-down teeth

Causes

In addition to the link with TMJD, teeth grinding can be caused by many factors. Stress and anxiety appear to play a significant role, with those who have diagnosed anxiety disorders or self-reported stress experiencing bruxism more often. Bruxism is also strongly linked to sleep apnea and snoring, although research has not yet revealed which disorder is likely the root cause. Those with depression, heavy smokers, and those who frequently drink caffeine or alcohol are also more likely to experience teeth grinding.

Risks

Pain and jaw inflammation are among the biggest risks of teeth grinding. Although bruxism does not appear to cause TMJD, it can cause similar symptoms to develop. It might even become difficult to chew, or to fully open or close your mouth.

Grinding also weakens teeth and damages the enamel. Those who grind their teeth are at a much higher risk for cavities, tooth decay, broken teeth, and even losing their teeth.

We now have the ability to image your teeth using our iTero 3D scanner, save the image and compare it to future images to determine changes over time.

Treatment Options

Treating bruxism involves learning and treating the root cause. Controlling anxiety and depression, using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea, and cutting back on tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol can go a long way towards helping you stop grinding your teeth.

While the underlying cause is being determined and treated, your dentist may recommend an appliance to protect your teeth and jaw. An occlusal appliance, also known as a bite plate, bite guard, or night guard, is a custom-made plastic protector that is worn at night to cushion the teeth. A mandibular advancement device is often used when sleep apnea is suspected. It brings the lower jaw forward during sleep, preventing the airway from collapsing while protecting the teeth.

Cognitive-behavioral techniques such as meditation, relaxation exercises, and increased awareness of grinding behavior, can help you learn to stop grinding your teeth. Many times, these techniques are used in tandem with an occlusal appliance.

Teeth grinding is common but risky, and can be caused by a variety of factors. Fortunately, treatments are available to help reduce or avoid the painful, damaging effects of this condition.

Conveniently located in Woodbury, MN, Creekview Dental provides a progressive yet conservative approach to dental care. Our innovative, highly personalized procedures are focused on maintaining tooth structure and providing you with the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve. Call us today at 651-738-8204 to take the first steps on the road to better dental health.