What Are the Dangers of Teeth Grinding?
An occasional, brief grinding of the teeth, while not good for your oral health, is not likely to be a significant problem. But when grinding is regular and intense, it can cause your teeth to gradually wear down, and especially wear off enamel from your crowns (possibly leading to cavities.)
Teeth can also be loosened, fractured, or even ultimately lost due to excessive teeth grinding over the years. This can lead to the need for dental appliances, like crowns, bridges, or dentures. Or, it could lead to the need for a root canal or dental implants.
Additionally, grinding your teeth often causes chronic, dull headaches, especially after you wake up in the morning (after grinding all night.) And it can also weaken your jaw joints and, in extreme cases, even change the appearance of your face, to a somewhat “sagging” look on the lower jaw area.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Stress can cause numerous dental problems, but teeth grinding is one of the main stress-related problems that can negatively affect your oral health.
An abnormal (misaligned) bite, crooked or missing teeth, and sleeping disorders can also cause you to grind your teeth. Sleep apnea and snoring also frequently occur with those who grind their teeth at night. There is mounting evidence that a person bruxes or grinds their teeth due to their sleep apnea. In effect, the body grinds the teeth in an attempt to wake you up and start breathing more regularly.
Of course, teeth grinding could also be merely a matter of a bad habit, but typically, there is more that is going on. Your dentist can examine your mouth for signs of bruxism and can help you identify what may be the root cause of the habit.
What Can You Do to Stop Yourself From Grinding Your Teeth?
Mental discipline and determination may not always be enough. Your dentist or periodontist can recommend solutions that may help.
First, you may need to wear a mouth guard at night to prevent teeth grinding. Your mouth guard can be custom-fit, and there are many options that are comfortable to wear and easy to clean.
Second, you should look into ways to reduce stress. Changes in lifestyle, counseling, an exercise regimen, or even taking muscle relaxants are all possible answers.
Third, consider reducing or eliminating high-caffeine drinks (coffee, tea, and soft drinks) from your diet. Alcoholic beverages can also tend to make you grind your teeth.
But definitely NEVER chew on pencils or other non-food objects or use your teeth to open packaging: that can have the same negative effects as can teeth grinding.
Grinding your teeth may seem like a harmless habit, but it can do serious harm to your oral health long-term. Identifying and correcting the problem could save your teeth.
To learn more or to make an appointment, in Volusia and Flagler Counties, FL, contact periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik today.