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Teeth Grinding- Causes and Prevention

Teeth Grinding – Causes and Prevention

Teeth grinding, which is often referred to as bruxism, is a condition where a person constantly and persistently grinds their teeth. You may grind your teeth during the day when feeling stressed or anxious, but it’s not uncommon for patients to grind their teeth at night without even being aware of it. Unfortunately, bruxism can cause a variety of oral health complications if it goes untreated and if it gets to the point where teeth are cracking, breaking and fracturing. Understanding the causes of bruxism as well as how to prevent it from happening can help to keep your smile in great shape.

Problems with Teeth Grinding

When you persistently grind your teeth, it eventually wears down the biting surfaces of the teeth. This can result in the teeth cracking, breaking or even fracturing. Grinding can even break or crack restorations and appliances such as crowns, bridgework, dentures and orthodontic retainers. Grinding can also cause issues involving the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), resulting in pain and discomfort. Your teeth may look flat or worn after years of routine bruxism.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

Bruxism can be caused by a variety of different factors. For some patients, they grind their teeth during the day when they are feeling anxious, stressed or scared. However, most cases of bruxism occur at night while you’re asleep. This makes it more difficult to stop because you’re not even aware you’re doing it. Some of the most common causes of bruxism include:

Anxiety and Stress –

When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, you may find that you grind your teeth. Some people are aware that they’re grinding their teeth while others may do it throughout the day and only become aware of it because their teeth start hurting or they start developing TMJ-specific pain.

Uneven Bite and Malocclusion Problems –

When your bite is off, even by just a small amount, this can cause you to grind your teeth. This is due to the teeth not coming into contact with each other properly, a term known as intercuspation. Orthodontic treatment can typically help with this specific cause of grinding.

Missing Teeth –

If you’re missing teeth, you may be more likely to grind your teeth at night because the teeth are trying to come into contact with each other without much success. Tooth loss can also cause other surrounding teeth to shift, causing bite problems for the individual involved.

Sleep Apnea –

Sleep apnea causes short pauses in your breathing at night, which can affect the way that you’re sleeping. As a result, it’s not uncommon for patients with sleep apnea to grind their teeth at night without being aware of their actions.

Signs of Teeth Grinding

During your bi-annual dental appointment, your dental team can check for signs of grinding. Bruxism is often apparent because the teeth look flat and may be cracked, broken or fractured. In some cases, the only way to know you’re grinding your teeth at night is by a partner telling you that they heard grinding while you were sleeping. However, some of the other tell-tale signs to look for when it concerns bruxism include:

• Morning-specific headaches

• TMJ pain and discomfort

• Broken, cracked and fractured teeth

• Flat-looking teeth

• Tooth pain or gum inflammation

• Mouth soreness

• Broken appliances and restorations

How to Prevent Teeth Grinding

Preventing bruxism is completely specific to the cause of the actual grinding. For stress and anxiety, stress-reducing practices like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can seriously help in eliminating excess anxiety and reducing stress. For nighttime grinding, there are special devices that can be made for you that fit comfortably and should be worn throughout the night. These appliances create a cushion between the top and bottom teeth, preventing the grinding from affecting the teeth and jaw. Sleep apnea patients will benefit from medical treatment options or an oral sleep apnea device that opens the upper airway. Uneven bites and missing teeth can be remedied with orthodontic treatment as well as implants or bridge work.

For men and women living in Franklin Square, NY, it’s important to reach out for professional help if you suspect bruxism. Over time, untreated grinding can have a severe impact on your oral health and cause the need for extensive work and treatment. For many causes of bruxism, a simple oral device can be worn to prevent excessive wear to the teeth and the consequences that come from continually grinding your teeth. Bruxism is completely preventable and treatable and is often easy to spot on your own. However, if you suspect that you grind your teeth and want a professional opinion, be sure to visit the dental office. Your dentist can easily spot signs of bruxism and offer you treatment options that are right for you.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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Phone: 516-352-1000
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