It is not uncommon to clench your teeth from time to time. Occasional grinding, scientifically known as bruxism, does not always cause damage, but when it occurs regularly, teeth can be damaged, and related oral health complications may arise.
Because grinding often takes place while we sleep, many are unaware that they grind their teeth. At EK Dental Surgery, we would like to share with you some of the symptoms of grinding, the threat it represents, and how we can help you treat your grinding!
Symptoms of tooth grinding
A low-level, constant headache or sore jaw in the morning are the telltale symptoms of bruxism. Often, people learn that they grind their teeth from loved ones who hear the grinding at night.
If you suspect you are grinding your teeth, talk to your EK Dental Surgery dentist. At EK Dental we can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of grinding, including excessive wear on your teeth and jaw tenderness.
Causes of bruxism
While grinding can be caused by anxiety and stress, it is more likely to be caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by sleep disorders including sleep apnea.
Why is bruxism dangerous?
Chronic bruxism can lead to loosening, fracturing, or loss of teeth. In severe cases, constant grinding can wear teeth down to stumps. If any of these things happen, crowns, bridges, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even full dentures may be required to repair the damage and restore chewing and speaking functions.
Not only can severe bruxism affect your teeth and result in their loss, but it can also damage your jaws, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even distort the appearance of your face.
How can I fight back?
At EK Dental Surgery we can fit you with a mouth guard that protects your teeth against grinding while you sleep. We can also work with you to isolate the potential causes of your bruxism.
If stress is the cause of your tooth grinding, we can help you with options to reduce your stress. These options include beginning an exercise program, stress counselling, visiting a physical therapist, or even obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants.
If your grinding is caused by a sleeping disorder, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit. Disorders such as sleep apnea are treatable!
Other ideas include:
- Reduce consumption or stop having foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, colas, and chocolate.
- Avoid drinking alcohol as grinding can intensify after imbibing.
- Do not chew pens, pencils, or any non-food items. Stay away from chewing gum as your jaw muscles become accustomed to clenching and this makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
- Train yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. If you grind or clench during the day, place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This trains your jaw muscles not to bite down and to relax.
- Relax your jaw muscles before sleep by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek, in front of your earlobe.
Tooth grinding in children
Teeth grinding is not only for adults. Between 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth, but it is a bit different than in adults. Children tend to grind their teeth at peak times — when baby teeth first emerge and when permanent teeth erupt. The good news is that this clenching is ordinarily temporary.
Tips to help a child stop grinding teeth include:
- Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
- Decrease your child’s stress.
- Use stretching and massage a to relax their muscles.
- Include plenty of water in a child’s diet as dehydration may be related to teeth grinding.
- Have your dentist monitor your child’s teeth if they grind or clench.
Usually, however, no intervention is required with preschoolers. Older kids may need temporary crowns or night guards to prevent the grinding.
Night guards and bruxism
A custom night guard provided by EK Dental Surgery can ease your teeth grinding problems. A night guard is designed to prevent teeth grinding and clenching. Night guards are transparent devices that can stop damage to your teeth by preventing contact between your lower and upper teeth.
To be sure no long-term problems are caused, book a consultation with us and proper treatment can be discussed. Treatments can range from hot packs and occlusal splints or night guards to orthopaedic and orthodontic treatments.
Reasons To Smile At EK Dental Surgery!
EK Dental Surgery offers a wide variety of preventative and cosmetic dental procedures for children, seniors, and everyone in between! We are a team of dedicated dentists and staff working to provide the best care possible. At EK Dental we can help you achieve tip-top dental health and a movie-star smile!
EK Dental Surgery is conveniently located on Springvale Road in Glen Waverley.
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Call us on (03) 9887 8787 or visit us at 230 Springvale Road in Glen Waverley.