Teeth grinding refers to the clenching, gnashing, and shifting of the teeth when a person is asleep. This places a great deal of pressure on the teeth as well as the gum tissue and the jaw joint. People of all ages may suffer from teeth grinding. Many people suffer from bruxism, but the statistics can vary. Somewhere between 8 percent and 30 percent of the population suffers from bruxism depending on what numbers you consider.
The team at our Missouri City general dentistry practice would like to consider some of the dangers of teeth grinding. We'll then briefly discuss the treatment options that can help prevent further dental damage and improve your overall dental health.
Common Causes of Teeth Grinding
Some of the most common causes of teeth grinding include the following:
Excessive Stress – In stressful situations, it's not uncommon for people to clench or gnash their teeth.
Malocclusion (Tooth Misalignment) – If you have crooked teeth, your lower jaw may shift during sleep to find a comfortable resting position.
Sleep Disorders – Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause or contribute to a number of problems, bruxism among them.
Side Effect of Medication and Drugs – The use of certain medications and illicit drugs can cause you to clench or gnash your teeth.
Potential for Tooth Fractures
If you grind your teeth, the continual stress on the teeth can make chips, cracks, and other kinds of fractures more likely. This is a major problem if your teeth grinding goes untreated for a long time, leading to much more brittle and weakened teeth.
Dental abfractions are small notches that form on the teeth around the gumline. The stress of teeth grinding can make these notches more pronounced, leading to tooth sensitivity and weaker teeth that could be more prone to fractures and severe damage.
Increased Risk of Gum Recession
Teeth grinding doesn't just affect your teeth. In addition to causing damage to your teeth, teeth grinding places a great deal of stress on the gums. Over time, this leads to the loss of tissue along the gumline, which is known as gum recession. This can result in tooth sensitivity, loose, teeth, and even tooth loss.
Problems with Restful Sleep
People who grind their teeth often experience issues with getting a proper night's sleep. They may experience headaches, earaches, and jaw pain as a result of teeth grinding. In addition, there may be some fatigue in the morning due to teeth grinding or a related sleep disorder. This can result in daytime drowsiness as well as mood problems over a long period of time.
Treatment Options for Teeth Grinding
There are many different treatment options for teeth grinding, and typically it involves multiple treatments combined to address the cause or causes of the condition.
The most common first step in treatment is the use of a night guard, which is a retainer worn when a person is asleep. This prevents direct contact between the upper and lower teeth, reducing the amount of pressure and damage done when grinding your teeth. Orthodontics, restorative care, and stress management techniques may all play roles in the treatment process as well.
Learn More About Teeth Grinding
For more information about teeth grinding and how our team can help you have a healthy and beautiful smile, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. We look forward to your visit and discussing your treatment options in more detail.