While it’s likely that many – if not all – people grind or clench their teeth in certain situations, it’s estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of all Americans experience bruxism, or occasional to moderate teeth grinding. What’s more is that this regular grinding of the teeth can eventually lead to some serious tooth and mouth damage. Teeth grinding may occur due to a variety of reasons. For instance, it can be a byproduct of stress and/or anxiety. It can even occur while one is sleeping, so an individual may not even realize that it is happening. The good news is that teeth grinding is fairly easy to manage.
Potential Damage from Teeth Grinding
As we noted in the opening, regular grinding of the teeth can be detrimental to the mouth. Specifically, there are two major issues that may result from it:
- Tooth damage: If teeth grinding goes undetected for too long, the teeth may wear down to the stumps, thereby making the use of dentures mandatory. On a less severe note, teeth grinding makes teeth more apt to breaking and cracking, which can also result in costly restorative dental work.
- Jaw damage/issues: Teeth grinding doesn’t just have the potential to wreak havoc on your teeth, but on your jaw too. For instance, research has linked teeth grinding with pain and discomfort in the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ – the joint that connects the jaw and the skull. This important joint is used for things like yawning, chewing and other everyday functions.
Treatment Options for Teeth Grinding
The best way to detect teeth grinding issues is to see your dentist at least twice a year for regular checkups and professional cleanings, as a thorough examination of the mouth can help determine whether or not your teeth are wearing down from grinding issues. However, some other signs to watch for, especially if you think you may be grinding your teeth at night, are tenderness in the jaw or a dull headache upon waking. As we previously noted, there’s a lot that can be done to curb teeth grinding. This includes:
- Wearing a dental mouth guard to prevent damage from grinding at night.
- Taking measures to reduce stress, whether it be through relaxation techniques or developing an exercise routine.
- Drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages in moderation.
- Eliminating bad habits, such as chewing on your nails or pencils. It’s also important to eliminate any jaw clenching that you do.
- Taking measures to relax your jaw in the evenings, such as by pressing a warm cloth against it.
Like we said earlier, the best way to determine if you have a teeth grinding problem is to watch out for the side effects and to see your dentist regularly so that it can be detected and corrected before it becomes a major dental issue. For more information on teeth grinding, its signs and how to manage and prevent it, contact Caven Dental today.