It’s not particularly difficult to diagnose whether or not you’re a teeth grinder, that is whether your teeth come together as you sleep at night (also called “Bruxism”). But what most people don’t realize is that teeth grinding can have some detrimental effects on your dental health, which is why you should seek treatment from your dentist.
So what types of effects can come from teeth grinding? Here’s a look:
- Cracks and chips: When you grind your teeth at night, they come together, sometimes in a violent way. This can lead to chips and cracks in your teeth, both on the biting surface and on the entire tooth itself.
- Jaw pain: It’s estimated that as many as 10 percent of people who grind their teeth will experience jaw pain.
- TMJ disorder: Long-term teeth grinding can lead to a jaw disorder known as “TMJ disorder.” This consists of difficulty or restrictions on how much and how often you can move your jaw.
- Other symptoms include the likes of tooth loosening, tooth loss, flattening of the teeth and dulling of your teeth’s biting surfaces, daytime headaches, sensitive teeth and the recession of the gums.
So what exactly does teeth grinding stem from? There are a variety of explanations. For instance, while it’s certainly plausible that it just happens and becomes habitual, it’s also linked to high caffeine intake, regular consumption of alcohol, habitual chewing on things like your nails, pens and pencils and stress.
But don’t fret if you’re a teeth grinder. It can be resolved. For instance, a lot of times, you can simply kick your bad habit by adjusting your lifestyle. So try cutting down on your caffeine and alcohol intake. You can also try to alter your behavior if you clench your teeth a lot, as such can become natural over time and carry over into the night time. And finally, since teeth grinding is linked to stress, consider decompressing at night before you hit the sheets – you may even hold a warm washcloth to your jaw as you fall asleep in an attempt to relax the jaw muscle (more extreme stress relief might consist of exercising, counseling or muscle relaxant medicine).
But the best tried and true method for treating teeth grinding is to see your dentist. He’ll fit you for a mouth guard that prevents you from grinding your teeth at night as you sleep. Specifically, mouth guards are worn over your teeth and prevent your teeth from coming together overnight. What’s more is that just because you’re a teeth grinder doesn’t mean you’ll stay a teeth grinder forever. Wearing a mouth guard at night will give you peace of mind for now as you work to adjust your lifestyle and kick the mouth guard for good.