DO YOU GRIND YOUR TEETH? You may not even be aware of it! Here are some of the signs and symptoms:
- Tooth sensitivity as enamel is worn away exposing softer, darker-colored dentin.
- Excess grinding of the back teeth can make teeth appear shorter.
- Upper teeth become more angled, thin and translucent, putting them at risk of chipping.
- Facial muscle pain which is exacerbated by chewing, talking or yawning.
It’s a bad habit that can cause headaches, jaw pain, earache, damage to teeth and in some cases even change the shape of your face. However if you are guilty of teeth grinding or clenching the chances are you won’t even be aware you’re doing it as most of us do it subconsciously during sleep.
Work-related stress is the most common reason, particularly for women. When we sleep any worries or concerns we have – even if only in our subconscious mind – can lead to clenching, nocturnal grinding and in some cases temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction (pain and dysfunction of the jaw muscles).
It can also cause headaches and mean that sleep is not as restful as it should be. This can take a toll on the patient’s health and wellbeing.”
It can also be inherited. Yet most people are not aware they do it until their dentist notices tooth wear or a partner complains about the noise.
Bruxism can be responsible for a whole range of symptoms. It can cause tooth discoloration as enamel wears away and in extreme cases even alter the shape of the face as the teeth get shorter and the nose and chin get closer together. If you have porcelain crowns or veneers, continued grinding can actually fracture them.
Teeth grinding can lead to excessive use of the masseter muscles at the back angle of the lower jaw. Continued clenching can cause these muscles to bulk up which can give the face a wider appearance.
So what can be done about it? If the problem is stress related, relaxation techniques such as yoga or hypnosis can help some patients. Dental treatments include mouth guards or bite guards worn at night. They must be custom made and fitted by a Dr. Still. They will not necessarily eradicate the grinding problem completely, however they can preserve the longevity of the teeth.