The Battle Against Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
- March 10, 2016
We expect to see certain people wearing mouthguards.
Mouthguards are mandatory to participate in many sports, like boxing, football, and hockey. In other sports, like basketball, more and more athletes choose to wear mouthguard to protect their teeth and jaws from the repeated high-impact movements during competition.
But what if you are damaging your teeth, and you don’t even realize it? Can a mouthguard help you?
In fact, it can. One specific way that a mouthguard can help is by protecting you from grinding your teeth.
We’ve seen the evidence of teeth grinding in several patients who visit our dentist office in Plainville, CT, and it’s important to our team at Gentle Dental Care to help them resolve that problem.
Why People Grind Their Teeth
Bruxism is a scientific term for clenching or grinding your teeth.
One of the most common causes of bruxism is stress. Unfortunately, we live in an age where stress is an everyday occurrence for some people.
You may have stress about a project at work. You may be stressed because of the pressure put on your by your boss or the pressure you put on yourself.
You may feel stress because of issues with your family. You and your spouse may disagree over the best way to spend money. One of your children may be battling an illness. Your parents may have the best of intentions, but something they said could be causing you to question a recent decision.
Many people grind their teeth in their sleep, which makes it harder to prevent. This may be due to the stress we mentioned earlier. It also may be because of a problem with your bite (how your teeth fit together).
Bruxism And Your Oral Health
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that bruxism is bad for your teeth.
This isn’t difficult to understand. Just get some sandpaper and rub it on a piece of wood for a comparison. The sandpaper works by scraping off or grinding into parts of the wood.
When you grind your teeth into each other, you remove the outer layers of your teeth. This layer is the protective enamel, which is the hardest substance on the human body.
Your enamel is the like a wall shielding your teeth from the bacteria that cause tooth decay. It’s possible for bacteria to eat through your enamel if you don’t care for your teeth properly, but bacteria don’t have to do that if you essentially open the door by removing some of your enamel.
Grinding your teeth also can create new problems if you previously had work done. Grinding can cause fillings and crowns to come loose. It can weaken dental bridges, too.
Bruxism And TMJ Problems
In addition to damaging your teeth, bruxism is one of the leading causes of TMJ disorders.
Your TMJ is your temporomandibular joint. It allows you to open and close your mouth, which makes this joint helpful if you like to eat or speak.
When your clench or grind your teeth, you are putting added pressure on your joint, on your facial muscles, and on your tendons.
Signs that you may have a TMJ problem include frequent headaches, earaches, and facial pain. Your jaw may hurt constantly or during or shortly after you finish a meal. You may feel pain in your neck and shoulders related to your bruxism, too.
Another big indicator of a TMJ disorder is reduced range of motion in your jaw. If you can only open your jaw partially or if you jaw becomes stuck, this can be painful, embarrassing, or both.
The first step in treating bruxism may not involve the dentist at all. You may need to find a new way to manage your stress.
Some people can do this with relaxation techniques. Some people can do this with counseling, and some people do this with exercise.
If those aren’t helping, that’s when we can intervene, which brings us back to mouthguards. One way dentists help with bruxism is by making special mouthguards for patients to wear at night.
The mouthguard keeps your teeth separated, so you can’t grind them into one another. The guard also changes the position of your jaw to relieve the pressure on our TMJ, which may reduce or eliminate your TMJ symptoms.
Make The Call
If you have noticed the symptoms of bruxism or TMJ, then we encourage you to call our dentist in Plainville, CT, right away. Dr. Peltzer and the staff at Gentle Dental Care don’t like to see our patients’ suffer. When it’s a problem that we can fix, we want to try to help.
Call 860-479-2397 or fill out our online form to make an appointment.