Teeth grinding may seem like just a harmless habit triggered by stress, certain medications, or even malaligned teeth. However, teeth grinding can result in short-term and long-term damage to your teeth and jaw. This damage in most cases is unrepairable, making teeth grinding a habit that should be identified, and treated, to prolong the health of your smile.
What is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding, which is scientifically referred to as bruxism, is when a person clenches and grinds their teeth together. Most doctors and dentists feel that teeth grinding is considered a parafunctional oral activity, or one that is NOT ordinary and normal (like talking, eating, or breathing). There are two specific types of teeth grinding, awake bruxism, which occurs during waking hours, and nocturnal bruxism, which occurs during sleeping. It is possible for an individual to suffer from one type and not the other; however, they often occur together.
What are Short and Long-Term Impacts of Teeth Grinding?
There are a number of short and long-term impacts that teeth grinding have on the health of your teeth, as well as your body in general including:
- Headaches – Headaches are a common side effect from teeth grinding, due to the excessive pressure and force caused from clenching the jaw.
- Tooth Wear – Wear to the tooth is one of the first noticeable impacts of teeth grinding.
- Fractured Teeth and Worn Enamel – With prolonged teeth grinding, tooth wear will often turn into fractured teeth and worn enamel. Tooth enamel does not grow back, which makes repairing the damage caused by teeth grinding near impossible.
- Insomnia – Those who grind their teeth often have trouble sleeping, whether due to the grinding itself, or the pain caused.
- Receding Gums – When the grinding continues, the gums may begin to recede–affecting the entire dental structure.
- TMD – One of the more severe consequences of teeth grinding is Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). The jaw pain caused by TMD can lead to debilitating pain and a lifelong of doctor’s visits if left untreated.
Prevention and Treatment
Taking steps to prevent and treat teeth grinding are essential for overall dental health. There are a few different theories on how to best prevent, or treat, teeth grinding. However, most dentists will agree that the best and easiest way to deal with moderate cases is to utilize a mouthguard of some sort during situations where grinding may occur.
Mouthguards are utilized to protect the teeth, making them a suitable choice for teeth grinding. A mouthguard can be designed to wear overnight, for those nocturnal grinders who need something to help them rest through the night without the endless grinding.
For those who grind their teeth during the day, mouthguards may also be worn throughout the day as needed. Today’s daytime options are designed to be easier and more appealing to wear than ‘sleeping’ mouth guards.
When getting a custom-fitted mouthguard at Triangle Dentistry, our dentists will get a mold of your mouth to ensure the mouth fits as comfortably as possible. The mold will then be used to create the actual mouthguard. Insurance typically covers the cost of mouthguards from Triangle Dentistry, contact your insurance representative or speak with our administrative office to make sure before your appointment.
Teeth grinding is a damaging habit, but with proper knowledge and preventative measures, you can keep your smile strong and bright.
Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3608.