Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth, is something almost everyone does occasionally. However, when it happens too frequently, it becomes a problem. It can cause the teeth to crack, be worn down, get loose, or even fall out. Because of these problems, it is important to take steps to stop chronic bruxism.
How to fix teeth grinding can depend on the reason for it. This means that a good dentist will first try to find issues that are known to cause this behavior. Common causes include stress and anxiety, but also include physical problems like missing teeth, crooked teeth, and sleep apnea.
Figuring Out if You Grind Your Teeth
Since most grinding happens at night, it is typical to not be conscious of the fact that you are doing it. However, a night of bruxism often leaves symptoms that you can detect the next day. WebMD says to be on the lookout for a sore jaw or a dull headache upon waking. TMD, involving pain and possibly damage to your jaw joint, is also a possibility. Also, if you sleep in close proximity to someone else, that person may hear your teeth grinding and tell you about it.
If you suspect bruxism, the next step is to have your dentist take a look. He or she can examine your mouth for signs of excessive tooth wear, sore spots in your jaw, and other tipoffs of the problem.
Why Should You Address Teeth Grinding?
Over time, grinding your teeth can grind them all the way down to stubs. This can cause great pain, and result in the need for expensive repairs like crowns and root canals. It can also cause TMJ disorders, which result in extreme jaw pain that can interfere with eating. Also, the noise itself is very irritating, and can interfere with your partner’s ability to sleep.
Ways to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
There are a number of ways to reduce or eliminate bruxism. These range from conscious behavioral adjustments to mouth appliances and readjustments of your teeth.
One of the most common solutions is to wear a night guard. This, according to Healthline, is a “kind of occlusal splint” that keeps your teeth from being able to touch each other while it is in place. Essentially, you end up grinding your teeth against the guard instead of the opposing teeth. These can be either custom made or purchased over the counter (OTC). The site warns that the OTC types aren’t as comfortable or effective as the custom ones, so it’s best to go custom if your bruxism is severe.
Night guards are most effective for teeth grinding that happens while you are asleep. During the day, you are unlikely to need to wear one, or want to. The dental team from Kawveh Nofallah, DMD, specializes in custom-made night guards to help protect your teeth from damage.
Tooth Crown Reshaping
Technically known as coronoplasty, this is used to level out the biting surfaces of the teeth. If your grinding is caused by your teeth being of uneven heights, this may help.
Sometimes, grinding can occur not because of high teeth, but because one or more sits lower than the others. Then, additive coronoplasty can build up the short ones to even them up. In both cases, your mouth ends up feeling more normal, helping to eliminate the unconscious need to try to grind everything into uniformity.
It seems as if Botox is used for almost everything, and teeth grinding is no exception. Studies have shown mixed results, but you may find it worth a try. For bruxism, the Botox is injected into the largest muscle responsible for moving the jaw. This can alleviate, but not cure, teeth grinding and the related headaches.
While the ideal solution to stress is to eliminate it altogether, most people aren’t in situations where they can easily do this. Therefore, stress-related bruxism is countered by using a variety of stress management techniques. These include staples like yoga, general exercise, talk therapy, taking warm baths, and breathing exercises. Some may find it more relaxing to do physical labor like chopping wood or digging. No matter which method you use, if you expel stressful energy, the unconscious urge to grind your teeth will often diminish.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
If it turns out that your bruxism is caused by sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, then treatment will be directed at that problem. Once the underlying cause is under control, your teeth grinding will likely stop. If the grinding has become a habit by then, a mouth guard can help retrain your body to sleep without doing it.
Teeth Grinding in Children
The Cleveland Clinic notes that children can also grind their teeth. However, in them, it is not usually caused by stress. Instead, it is most often the result of physical problems like misaligned teeth, sleep apnea, and mouth irritation. It can also be hereditary.
If you grind your teeth, come see Dr. Kawveh Nofallah in Lakeland, Florida. The doctor will examine your teeth and create a custom-made night guard to prevent your teeth from further damage. With successful treatment, you’ll be relieved of your headaches, aching jaws, and the tooth problems that come from grinding your teeth.
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