You may not realize it as you occasionally grind your teeth together, but the habit of doing so could be a potentially serious dental issue. Most people clench their jaws and grit their teeth when under extreme pressure or physical strain, or when experiencing a strong negative emotion, like anger. However, many people chronically grind their teeth out of habit, a condition known as bruxism. If you’re one of them, then you’re likely endangering the integrity of your teeth. The first step to stopping bruxism is to find out the cause of bruxism or tooth grinding in the first place. Then, your dentist can treat the underlying condition to restore your smile’s harmony.
What does bruxism do to your teeth?
Bruxism is a serious dental health condition. Grinding your teeth can create tiny lesions on your tooth enamel. Even though enamel is harder than platinum, this outer surface will begin to erode with severe grinding pressure over extended periods. Sufferers of bruxism wear down their enamel by clenching their jaw during the day, and subconsciously grating their teeth together during sleep. The cause of tooth grinding is under debate in the dental profession but there are more accepted theories.
How is teeth grinding harmful to my health?
Not only does a weaker tooth enamel make teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and tooth decay, but the constant pressure exerted during sleep can completely exhaust your jaw muscles. These major symptoms of bruxism are catalysts for oral and overall health problems. Constant jaw hinge joint straining causes TMJ disorder. Repeated teeth clenching tenses up your neck and shoulder muscles creating aches and pains. You may also suffer from chronic morning earaches or even migraines. Discovering the cause of your teeth grinding will help you discover which treatment is right for you.
What are the causes of bruxism?
Genetic link as cause of tooth grinding
There are several reasons why patients are more likely to grind their teeth. The predisposition to grind your teeth has a genetic link. If one or both of your parents would grind. Beyond genetics, there is always something that sets it off. One thing that often starts a person to start tooth grinding is stress. It is said that stress lessens our ability to adapt. If you are genetically predisposed to grind and you have another issue with say you bite, you might start grinding.
Psychological Theory as cause of Bruxism
There have been many studies that suggest a psychological cause to Bruxism. These studies have been conducted by Public health researchers instead of practitioners. Most practicing dentists discount these studies.
Bad Bite as cause of tooth grinding
A misaligned bite can be a result of genes, speech patterns, facial structure, injury, tooth drifting, and improperly erupted permanent teeth to name a few. Malocclusion is a common condition, but different types of bad bite can cause various dental health problems. When your teeth do not align correctly, the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together. Sometimes, this causes the joints of the jaw (temporomandibular joints) to not seat properly.
Bite issues can create teeth grinding especially during sleep when the back molars touch. Because jaw muscles work overtime to hold the mouth in proper position during the day, they’re fatigued by bedtime. The tired muscles react by twitching, so teeth are gnashed and clenched. Pressure wears down teeth, which further harms occlusion and contributes to muscle headaches and or facial pain. Symptoms of TMJ include worn teeth, headaches, chronic earaches, popping jaw joints, and limited motion of the jaw, to name a few. A cycle of destruction begins, and if it is not stopped, pain and tooth damage may become significant.
Can stress cause bruxism?
Stress is not the cause of bruxism but it does limit a person’s ability to adapt. Stress will certainly start a grinding cycle. Tension from chronic stress often contributes to TMJ disorder as well as teeth grinding. Anxiety often causes sufferers to clench their jaw muscles when they are not using their mouths. Try to relax your jaw muscle periodically throughout the day. A few days ago was National Stress Awareness Day. Take some time to evaluate your stress levels and take measures to calm your nerves.
Other factors that Cause Tooth Grinding
- High caffeine intake
- Heavy alcohol consumption
Can you treat the cause of tooth grinding
Treating your bruxism depends on the cause of it. If your bite is uncomfortable because your teeth are crooked, then straightening them with orthodontic treatment may relieve the symptom. If your teeth grinding or the causes have escalated to the point that the biting surfaces of teeth have been altered, Dr. Fondriest may suggest restorations to rebuild the bite, which will take pressure off jaw joints and stress off of associated muscles. If, however, your bruxism is in the early stages, Dr. Fondriest can fit you for a custom nightguard, an oral appliance that will prevent your upper and lower teeth from touching while you sleep. Some nightguards address only clenching and grinding, while others also reposition the mouth so that the TMJs are properly seated. This minimally invasive approach to correcting bruxism and TMJ disorder involves no pharmaceuticals or surgery.
Do not let teeth grinding continue to wear away your dental health. Chicago dentist, Dr. Fondriest offers treatments to correct the causes of bruxism so that you can have decreased tooth sensitivity, reduced jaw pain, better quality sleep, and less vulnerability to tooth decay. For more information call our Lake Forest dentist office at (847)234-0517.
Dr Fondriest is a Nationally recognized and highly sought after cosmetic dentist serving clients from throughout the United States