There are many root causes of chronic teeth grinding, but the most common ones include:
- Being chronically over-stressed.
- Worrying too much.
- Chewing on pens, pencils, or even gum throughout the day.
- Having a genetic predisposition to bruxism.
- Attempting to make up for tooth misalignment by biting down harder.
- Having a sleep disorder like sleep apnea.
Also, bruxism is especially common in children. It is often a childhood bad habit that naturally goes away as we grow up. In other cases, it may follow us into adulthood or even begin in our adult years.
Since teeth grinding usually happens at night while we sleep, many don’t even know they are doing it. Oftentimes, a spouse will notice it first and tell you about it.
What Are The Dangers Of Bruxism?
The first problems caused by bruxism – and signs that you may have it, are chronic headaches, a sore jaw when you wake up in the morning, and your spouse telling you you kept him/her awake last night!
Teeth grinding can also wear down tooth enamel on your natural crowns, cause teeth to fracture or chip, or even lead to teeth becoming loose or falling out. Sometimes, in extreme cases, teeth are worn down to mere stumps of their former selves in this manner.
The pressures of chronic teeth grinding/clenching may also lead to tooth misalignment over time.
What Can Be Done To Control The Problem?
There are a number of steps you can take on your own to fight back against bruxism. These include:
- Lowering alcohol consumption as alcohol can trigger teeth grinding.
- Never chewing on pencils or other non-edible objects. Avoid gum too since chewing throughout the day may lead to involuntary grinding at night.
- Avoiding drinks and foods with high caffeine contents.
- Training yourself to stop grinding your teeth by holding your tongue (gently) between your upper and lower teeth whenever you feel the urge to clench/grind.
- Putting a warm, damp washcloth on your cheek near your lower earlobe before sleeping at night. This can relax tense jaw muscles and prevent grinding.
Your periodontist will have other suggestions as well, including wearing a special anti-bruxism mouth guard while asleep and finding ways to reduce stress levels during the day.
For help in ending bruxism (chronic teeth grinding/clenching) or in diagnosing whether or not you have it, contact Ormond Beach Periodontics today in Central Florida for a free initial consultation and to set up an in-office appointment!