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Teeth Grinding

Most people will grind or clench their teeth occasionally, and this will not cause any harm. However, when teeth grinding and clenching occurs regularly, a habit called bruxism can cause considerable damage to teeth, gums, and jaw joints.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

People will often grind out clench their teeth during times of stress, and it often occurs during sleep and is associated with another sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Sometimes clenching and grinding are caused by misaligned teeth or an improper bite.

Certain medications can cause bruxism, including specific antidepressants. Using recreational drugs or smoking and drinking can increase your risk of developing bruxism. Teeth grinding and clenching habits tend to run in families, so your risk of having this problem increases if you have close family members who have bruxism.

Bruxism is also associated with certain medical problems, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), night terrors, and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How Can I Tell If I Have Bruxism?

Because bruxism often occurs during sleep, many people are unaware they have bruxism but may be alerted to this habit by complaints from sleeping partners. Teeth grinding and clenching can become pretty noisy. Other symptoms include waking up with a sore jaw, aching teeth, and a chronic headache. Teeth grinding and clenching can significantly damage teeth, causing them to become chipped, cracked, and worn. You may notice your teeth become more sensitive as you wear through tooth enamel or that they look shorter than before.

Bruxism can also cause gum recession and result in tooth loss in the worst cases. Because bruxism can affect the jaw joints, it can lead to tight and painful jaw muscles, and you could be unable to chew food comfortably or open your jaw properly. As you try to move your jaw, you may notice the jaw joints make a clicking or popping sound. The symptoms of bruxism can spread to your facial muscles, causing earache, and you might wake up with painful cheeks where you have been chewing the inside of your cheeks.

Diagnosing Bruxism

When you visit South Nassau Dental Arts, we can assess the condition of your teeth for signs of excessive wear and tear. We will also check your jaw joints. Often teeth grinding and clenching can cause a problem called temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The joints become inflamed and painful, making it tricky to move the lower jaw comfortably, resulting in a limited range of motion. We may wish to take diagnostic x-rays to assess the condition of your teeth and jaws more closely and can discuss how to stop grinding your teeth.

If we think your bruxism is linked to sleep apnea, we may suggest you have a sleep study where your sleep quality is monitored in a clinic or using a device overnight. The sleep study will help determine if you have bruxism and sleep apnea and the degree of severity.

Success Stories

Highly recommend this practice

I am not a doctor/dentist person at all. With that being said this office is excellent. Right off the bat they actually take you when your appointment is. Everyone is very friendly and thorough in explaining what they are going to do next. If you need a dentist for teeth grinding I highly recommend this practice.

Bill G.

Treating Bruxism

One of the easiest and most effective treatments is a mouth guard for teeth grinding. A teeth grinding guard is a custom-made dental appliance created using a model of your teeth. It will usually fit over your upper teeth and is made from a tough thermoplastic material. The mouthguard prevents your teeth from contacting while you sleep, ensuring your lower teeth grind harmlessly against the night guard. Some people will only need to wear a tooth grinding guard for a short while to help break the habit. Other people may benefit from wearing it in the longer term. At South Nassau Dental Arts, we  make our occlusal guards using the latest technology including a digital scanner to accurately scan your teeth, which eliminates the need for messy impression material. In addition, we use our in-house 3D printer to print your custom-fit occlusal guard so that it may be ready the same day, for the most accurate and precise fit possible.

Treating underlying medical conditions that could be causing bruxism is also helpful. If you currently take prescription medications that could be causing bruxism, we may suggest you visit your healthcare provider to see if they can change your medication. Please note you should never stop taking prescription medication without discussing it with your doctor first.

Restoring Teeth Damaged by Bruxism

We can discuss suitable restorative dentistry if teeth grinding has damaged your teeth. Chipped and cracked teeth can often be mended with dental bonding. More extensively damaged teeth may require dental crowns. Before restorative dentistry, we must treat bruxism; otherwise, teeth grinding and clenching will damage your new restorations. We will also want to check your occlusion or the way your teeth bite together. If your teeth are biting together improperly, we may suggest treatment to realign them, possibly using restorative dentistry or orthodontic treatment like Invisalign.

Other Strategies to Help Treat Teeth Grinding

In addition to professional dental care, it can be worth looking at why you grind your teeth, and taking a holistic approach to teeth grinding can help reduce the best results.

Suppose your bruxism may be linked to stress and anxiety. In that case, you might need to look at strategies to reduce your stress levels if possible, such as exercising, meditating, or taking up yoga. We may recommend facial exercises to help relieve stress on your jaw joints, and sometimes a prescription for muscle relaxants may be useful. Another possible treatment is Botox injections, as these can help relax the muscles responsible for clenching and grinding and can be useful for people with severe bruxism.

Some people find it useful to avoid foods and drinks containing caffeine, such as chocolate, certain sodas, and coffee. It can also be helpful to avoid alcohol, as teeth grinding and clenching can intensify after you have alcoholic beverages. During the daytime, try to train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth, positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth so that your facial muscles relax. Avoid habits such as  biting on pens or pencils, and avoid chewing gum as your jaw muscles become more used to clenching and grinding.

Can Children Have Bruxism?

It’s not unusual to find a young child or toddler grinding their teeth, but children generally grow out of this habit. Usually, children begin to grind their teeth when their baby teeth first come through and when they get their permanent teeth. Children can develop bruxism because their teeth are improperly aligned or have medical conditions or allergies. When we see children for dental checkups, we monitor their tooth development carefully and can soon detect any signs of bruxism that may damage their teeth or jaws. If you think your child is grinding their teeth or they have complained about jaw or tooth pain, please get in touch with us for help and advice.