Excessive grinding and clenching of the teeth is defined as bruxism. Typically, teeth grinding occurs unconsciously at nighttime when a person is asleep. Sleep bruxism affects 9% of the general population. American dentists often recommend mouthguards to children and adults as a treatment to help alleviate symptoms associated with grinding. Mouthguards can also prevent this disorder from getting worse.
While not everyone suffers adverse consequences from teeth grinding, some people experience TMJ disorder and tooth surface loss. This article discusses how teeth grinding can affect oral health, the reasons that put people in jeopardy, and how dentists treat it.
Place your hand on your cheek, directly in front of your ears. Open your mouth. Did you feel a popping or clicking underneath your skin? Popping jaw muscles is one of the first signs of a TMJ disorder. Bruxism is a chief cause of TMJ disorders. TMJ disorder is an all-encompassing term for conditions that negatively affect the temporomandibular joint. This small but active joint connects the jawbone to the skull. When left untreated, an overactive TMJ can cause pain, inflammation, and joint damage.
Even though enamel (tooth’s surface) is the hardest substance in the human body, systematic grinding destroys teeth. Dental restorations, such as crowns or veneers, risk erosion due to unwarranted and regular grinding and clenching.
Once grinding corrodes the tooth’s surface, the dentin (inner part of the tooth) is exposed. The dentin quickly wears away, the tooth hallows out, and the dental nerves become vulnerable to sensitivity and damage. In addition to irreversibly damaging teeth, excessive grinding can transform the face and cause it to appear shorter due to a reduction in tooth height.
Bruxism is a serious disorder, and certain risk factors could be at the root of this issue:
1. Stress and Anxiety: Researchers at Tel Aviv University discovered that nearly half of the adults with social anxiety also grind their teeth.
2. Sleep Disorders: Obstructive sleep apnea is often a precursor to bruxism. When the tongue and excess tissue block the respiratory pathway, the body’s natural response is to grind the teeth to reopen the airway.
3. Misaligned Bite: When the bite is uneven or crooked, pressure can be placed on the TMJ. When the jaw spasms, teeth grinding together.
4. Heredity: Genes predestine jaw and tooth size and shape. If this disorder runs in the family, it’s important to be mindful of this oral health issue.
While there are many treatments for this disorder, medical professionals manage bruxism with care because an array of possible factors can instigate it. At any stage of bruxism, a dentist’s first line of defense is typically a night guard (a mouthguard worn at night). Dentists weld customized night guards out of plastic to fit each patient’s unique bite.
Nightguards are comfortable, protective appliances designed to help control overactive jaw muscles by reducing stress. Over time, nightguards can help “de-program” patients with this terrible habit and protect a smile from further damage.
While bruxism is not life-threatening, untreated symptoms can hinder your quality of life. Dr. Yoon uses conservative methods to treat patients in Los Lunas and Albuquerque, NM who suffer from excessive teeth grinding.
Don’t expect your joint and dental pain to go away on its own. Do something your future self will thank you for. Start your journey to a better quality of life today by calling (505) 865-4341 or messaging us online to schedule treatment for bruxism in Los Lunas, NM.