Bruxism is the dental term for teeth grinding. Most people grind their teeth occasionally with little to no damage to the teeth or jaw. However, those who continually grind their teeth can cause serious damage to their teeth, and other oral health complications can arise. Bruxism refers to any forceful contact between the teeth.
This can be a loud grating or a silent, clenching contact. Either form can cause serious damage to the teeth. Many are unaware they have the condition because they grind their teeth only in their sleep.
However, bruxism can occur during waking hours as well. We treat patients with bruxism in our Concord and Lexington, MA, dental offices. We also provide periodontal services to new and existing patients in Lexington and Concord, MA.
Bruxism in Lexington, MA
Adults and children both can suffer from the condition. Alcohol, drugs, and certain sleep disorders can exacerbate the condition, making it worse. Children usually develop bruxism as a result of a cold or infection. Often pain from teething or earaches will induce bruxism in toddlers and children.
Why do I grind my teeth?
The cause of bruxism is still unknown. However, it is believed that increased stress and anxiety can greatly increase how often and how severely you grind your teeth. An abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth can also contribute to teeth grinding.
Why is bruxism bad?
Occasional bruxism usually does not result in damage to the teeth or jaw. However, chronic teeth grinding can cause serious dental issues. In some cases, grinding can result in tooth fracture, loosening of teeth, or the loss of a tooth or teeth. Grinding over the years without treatment can wear the teeth down to stumps. Patients may require bridges, crowns, root canals, dental implants, or possibly even dentures to repair.
Not only is bruxism bad for your teeth, it also damages the jaw. Grinding can result in hearing loss, change the appearance of your face and TMJ.
What can I do to stop grinding my teeth?
Being fitted for a mouth guard/night guard will help protect your teeth from the effects of grinding while you sleep. However, to cease grinding completely, it’s important to treat the triggers for why you grind your teeth.
If stress is causing your bruxism, ask your doctor or dentist about stress reduction techniques and options. Exercise, stress counseling, or prescription muscle relaxers may help reduce how often or severely you grind your teeth.
Other tips to help reduce bruxism include:
- Cut back on caffeine – This includes coffee, soda, tea, and chocolate.
- Avoid alcohol – Alcohol tends to increase the severity and frequency of bruxism.
- Chew only on food – This includes gum, pencils, or pens. Constantly chewing conditions your jaw muscles to stay clenched and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
- Pay attention to your mouth – If you notice that you grind or clench your teeth during the day, train yourself to relax. Position the tip of your tongue between your front teeth to make it harder to clench or grind your teeth.
- Relax your jaw before bed – Using a warm washcloth on the face at night will help relax the jaw prior to sleep. Position it on your check in front of your earlobe to get maximum results.
Occlusal, or bite, adjustment is a procedure performed to remove tiny interferences that keep teeth from coming together properly. These interferences can prevent the jaw from closing in its anatomically correct position.
Interferences can develop as teeth develop, can occur following an accident, or they can accumulate over time with wear. Dental work such as fillings, crowns, bridges, and extractions can also cause interferences.
Interferences can prevent the jaw from fully sliding into its anatomically correct position. This means that the muscles of the jaw and neck are never able to fully relax. This may result in severe headaches and neck aches.
Many develop bruxism, or teeth grinding, as their jaw seeks its natural position. Bruxism can cause bone loss, tooth loss, and receding gums. Overtime, patients may develop tempromandibular joint issues, or TMJ, if they go untreated.
How can I know if my bite is “off”?
During your examination, your doctor will examine your jaw closely and may notice symptoms that your bite may be off. Some symptoms include if the jaw does not open evenly on both sides, if the jaw makes a clicking noise as it opens, if the enamel has been ground away in certain areas, or if there are fractured teeth. Chronic symptoms of bruxism, headaches or neck aches, are also clues that the bite may be off.
How is my bite fixed?
Before the procedure begins, the doctor will have you bite on a very thin piece of mylar paper. The mylar paper transfers color to the areas where contact occurs. The doctor will then smooth the area where the marks have been left, removing just enough of the tooth or restoration to eliminate the interference.
This process will be done on all areas where the mylar paper leaves color on the tooth until the jaw can get into its normal position.
Address Teeth Clenching and Grinding
To schedule a consultation or learn more about the many procedures we offer, contact us at our Concord and Lexington offices today!