3 Things Bruxism Does to Your Smile

Bruxism is the clinical name for the constant, unconscious grinding of your teeth. Though commonly referred to as a habit, the truth is that bruxism is a chronic condition, and patients who experience it often can’t stop even if they wanted to. The good news is that Dr. James Fondriest can likely treat your condition with a custom-designed oral appliance, which you can wear at night to reduce the effects of bruxism. The bad news, though, is that if you hesitate, then your teeth and smile could experience devastating results. If you’ve already sustained dental damage from bruxism, Dr. Fondriest offers crowns and veneers for grinders to restore optimal function and oral health.

If you suffer from chronic teeth grinding or clenching, our team at Lake Forest Dental Arts can help. Call us at 847-234-0517 to schedule an appointment at our Chicago practice.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Before we take a look at the dangers of bruxism, we will explore a few of the associated symptoms. Because teeth grinding often occurs during sleep, many individuals don’t realize they are doing it. Therefore, it’s important to recognize some of the most common warning signs:

  • Jaw pain
  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • Orofacial pain
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Tinnitus
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Discomfort when opening or closing the jaw
  • Swelling around the jaw joints
  • Popping or clicking of the jaw joints

Dangers of Bruxism

Those who habitually clench or grind their teeth have a much higher risk for developing more complex dental problems. In the sections below, we will explore the top three dangers of bruxism.

1. Bruxism wears down your teeth.

As your teeth relentlessly rub together from bruxism, the repeated friction and pressure can quickly wear down the chewing surfaces of your teeth. This may be minor at first, but the more your teeth become worn, the weaker they’ll be against bruxism pressure in the future. This means they’ll be at a higher risk of becoming damaged, and in addition, they can make it harder for you to bite and chew comfortably.

2. Teeth grinding can throw your bite off balance.

When your teeth are worn down, they can no longer meet other squarely when you bite down. The worse the condition gets, the more difficult it will be for your jaw and bite to function properly. Besides the discomfort of a crooked bite, this can also increase your risks of developing a serious jaw dysfunction.

3. Bruxism can lead to TMJ disorder.

The more work it takes for your jaw to move, the more strained your jaw’s joints and muscles will be. Before long, this strain can lead to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, in which your jaw’s joints can’t function properly and the act of biting and chewing can become extremely painful.

Preventative Treatment Options for Bruxism

As with any dental problem, the sooner it is identified and addressed, the better. If left untreated, bruxism can wreak havoc on your smile and your oral health. Below, we will explore a few preventative treatments for bruxism.

Custom Oral Appliance

As aforementioned, a custom oral appliance is often the first line of defense against bruxism. To create your device, Dr. Fondriest takes impressions of your teeth and sends them to our trusted dental lab. Next, a trained technician creates your appliance to fit snugly and comfortably over your upper teeth. This keeps the teeth slightly apart and protects them from excessive pressure.

Lifestyle Changes

Because stress is often considered a primary cause of bruxism, patients may find some relief through breathing techniques, meditation, or similar practices. It can also be beneficial to work with a counselor, who can help you determine the root cause of your anxiety. Generally, lifestyle changes are recommended in conjunction with oral appliance therapy.

Restorative Treatment Options for Bruxism

What if you’ve already sustained chips, fractures, or erosion due to habitual grinding and clenching? Once the damage has been done, the only way to reverse it is with restorative dental treatments. We’ll explore the most common in the sections below.

Veneers for Grinders

When it comes to cosmetic dental treatments, porcelain veneers are one of the most effective and popular options. These strong, yet thin, tooth-colored restorations cover the front surfaces of the teeth to alter their size, shape, or shade. Veneers are especially beneficial for teeth grinders, as they can restore eroded or worn down teeth back to their original size.

Crowns for Grinders

Sometimes damage from grinding is too extensive to rely on veneers alone. For example, if bruxism has affected the chewing surfaces of the teeth, then you may require dental crowns to address the problem. Dr. Fondriest specializes in aesthetic cosmetic dentistry. Therefore, he can create custom restorations that are both durable and natural-looking.

Orthodontic Treatment

Whenever the teeth are out of alignment, bite forces may be uneven, leading to a number of issues. Straightening the teeth with traditional braces or Invisalign® can redistribute force across the entire bite, reducing the amount of stress on the teeth.

Tooth Replacement

Tooth loss can have a serious negative impact on your bite. In fact, it is a common cause of bruxism. That’s why it is so important to replace missing teeth. While dentures and bridges are both excellent teeth replacement options, dental implants are the most reliable and long-lasting solution.

Corrective Jaw Surgery

In severe or extreme cases, bruxism may only be treatable with corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery. This procedure is recommended when skeletal issues are responsible for malocclusion. The jaw can be altered to bring the bite into proper alignment.

Find Out How to Protect Your Smile from Bruxism

While unchecked bruxism can prove disastrous for your oral health, Dr. Fondriest can help you protect your smile with custom-designed treatment at our Chicago, IL practice. To learn more, schedule a consultation at Lake Forest Dental Arts by calling 847-234-0517. We primarily serve patients from the Chicago metro area, including the Northwest and North Shore suburbs. However, we are proud to care for individuals from all over the United States.