Unconscious teeth grinding or rubbing the teeth together is very common. It is thought that about 50% of us grind to some degree. Though commonly referred to as a habit, the truth is that sleep bruxism is a chronic condition, and patients who experience it often can’t stop even if they want 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 symptoms 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.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Grinding, also called bruxism, often occurs during sleep, and 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
- Tooth sensitivity
- Discomfort when opening or closing the jaw
- Swelling around the jaw joints
- Popping or clicking of the jaw joints
- Associated sleep disorders and other medical conditions such as sleep apnea
Dangers of teeth grinding
Those who habitually clench or grind have a much higher risk of developing more complex dental problems. In the sections below, we will explore the top three dangers of bruxism.
1. It 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. Your smile will appear different with short teeth.
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 risk 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.
Tips that Can Lessen the Effects of Your Teeth Grinding Habit
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.
Use a hot towel.
A persistent teeth grinding habit places your jaw under tremendous stress. To reduce the tension in your jaw, a hot towel (or a heating pad) should do the trick. Plus, the warmth promotes blood flow in that area. Using this remedy is simple: soak a towel in hot water and ring out the excess. Then, place the towel on both jaw joints until the towel loses its heat; repeat as needed.
Snack on something crunchy.
Since grinding and clenching forces your mouth to remain clamped shut for extended periods of time, chewing something crunchy helps relax the jaw. Sometimes dentists will recommend munching on carrots, apples, and cauliflower throughout the day to keep your jaw in motion.
Custom night guard
When dentists first discover signs of nighttime grinding, they suggest wearing a mouth guard to protect their teeth during sleep. The mouth piece proves quite comfortable and wearing one lessens the symptoms. 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 mouth guard to fit snugly and comfortably over your upper teeth. This keeps the teeth slightly apart and protects your teeth and jaw muscles from excessive pressure.
Manage or reduce your stress and anxiety
Oftentimes, the root cause stems from stress. Dr. Fondriest suggests learning how to manage everyday stress. You can do this by partaking in yoga classes, meditating, or completing breathing exercises daily. Furthermore, it’s important to follow this advice at work, too. During the day, take periodic breaks to massage and relax your jaw.
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 teeth grinding
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 Teeth grinding
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.
Whenever the teeth are out of alignment, bite forces may be uneven, leading to a number of issues. Straightening the misaligned teeth with traditional braces or Invisalign® can redistribute force across the entire bite, reducing the amount of stress on the teeth.
Tooth loss can have a serious negative impact on your bite. In fact, it is a common cause of teeth grinding. 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.
Find Out How to Protect Your Smile from Teeth grinding
Trained dentists can offer effective treatment methods to prevent further damage to your teeth and jaw joints. While unchecked it 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.