Just about everyone, except maybe Jimmy Buffett or your yoga instructor, grinds his or her teeth some times. After all, our bosses, kids, jobs, even driving on the Turnpike can drive us crazy. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, isn’t really any big deal — you have to clench your teeth occasionally when your boss is being a real idiot. The problem occurs when a person grinds his or her teeth regularly. That can create some real problems with your teeth.
Since we see the results of bruxism all the time at Gentle Dental, here’s a little primer on it.
Why do we do it?
Although some people grind their teeth due to stress or anxiety during the daytime, more often than not it occurs during sleep. More than stress, bruxism usually has its basis in an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also happen during sleep apnea, where your airflow is obstructed and you wake up dozens of times per night due to a lack of oxygen.
My teeth are tough, so what’s the big deal with a little grinding?
Your teeth are strong, but chronic grinding can break them down. Bruxism can lead to fracturing, loosening, and eventual loss of teeth. The grinding can wear the teeth down to the point where they have little value. In these cases, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, even full dentures may be in the grinder’s future.
Severe bruxism also affects your jaws, leading to temporomandibular joint disorder. It can change the appearance of your face.
How do I know if I’m a grinder?
Because most grinding occurs while we sleep, most people don’t know they do it. A dead giveaway is a sore jaw or a dull headache when you wake up. Also, the person next to you in bed can usually hear it.
How do we fix it?
At Gentle Dental, we can stop most cases of bruxism with night guards. We make each night guard custom to each patient, based on impressions we make of your bite. Night guards don’t restrict breathing, but generally stop grinding.
Are you waking up with a sore jaw? Maybe you’ve been grinding your teeth at night. Come see us at Gentle Dental; we can see the signs and get you into a protective night guard. Call us at (732) 549-5660 to make an appointment.