You grind all day, tending to your family, health, and never-ending to-do list. But when it’s time to relax, your teeth don’t get the memo.
Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding happens when you clench and grind your teeth against each other, usually subconsciously or while sleeping. The results could be devastating if you don’t check your teeth-grinding habits.
Our team of experts at Lancaster Dental Care Associates has seen firsthand the destruction years of teeth-grinding leaves in its wake. In addition to bringing you the best, most advanced dental services, we pride ourselves on equipping you with the tools to identify problems like teeth grinding so you can nip them in the bud.
Here’s everything you should know about teeth grinding, its effect on your teeth, and what to do about it.
Why do I grind my teeth?
There are a few reasons why you might be a chronic tooth grinder. Stress, anxiety, dehydration, tobacco use, alcohol, caffeine, and certain medications can wind you up tight enough that you start to pulverize your teeth. Some also believe bruxism is a genetic component, and others link it to underlying health conditions, such as sleep apnea, ADHD, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).
Typically, teeth-grinding stems from a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors, so it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly why you’re struggling.
How do I know I grind my teeth?
Problems with teeth grinding tend to fly under the radar, and you may blame the warning signs on an unrelated problem, but learning the common red flags helps you make proactive decisions. If you experience any of the following, you may have bruxism:
- Visibly worn out or flattened teeth
- Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
- Tired, tight, or tender jaw muscles
- Locked jaw
- Jaw, neck, or face pain or soreness
- Earache pain with no ear infection
- Dull headaches in your temples
- A wound on the inside of your cheek from chewing
- Sleep disruptions
Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to have a partner who catches it for you because your teeth grinding keeps them up at night.
Is it that bad?
The short answer is yes, but we want to show you exactly how constant stress on your teeth impacts your oral health and, consequently, your overall health.
When you grind your teeth, the bones and muscles in your jaw and face don’t get a break. The relentless stress causes radiating soreness and pain, making it difficult to eat, speak, and even get through your day.
Teeth grinding can become so bad that you develop another condition in your jaw called temporomandibular disorder (TMD). This disorder affects the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and can lead to severe pain in your face, neck, and shoulder and trouble chewing, talking, and swallowing.
A direct consequence of teeth grinding is its impact on your teeth. Like a mortar and pestle, your teeth mash against each other, wearing down to nubbins. Many who clench their teeth need cosmetic dentistry services to correct tooth height loss, cracks, chips, fractures, and sensitivity.
Teeth grinding is also a leading cause of gum recession because your teeth shift and loosen as you grind. Pockets form as your teeth move, breeding grounds for bacteria to enter and pull your gums away from your teeth.
If you grind your teeth, headaches could become a daily battle. The tension in your face and jaw muscles can cause a dull, throbbing headache.
What can I do about teeth grinding?
The best place to start treating teeth grinding is to deal with the underlying cause. That could mean managing stress, changing your habits, modifying your diet, and/or addressing contributing health problems.
From a dentistry standpoint, we recommend being fitted for a night guard if you clench your teeth at night.
Hot and cold therapy and pain medications can also help manage your pain and symptoms while you work to stop teeth grinding.
If you or a partner notice you clenching and grinding your teeth, don’t wait to have Dr. Saidara take a look. We can usually tell with an examination if your teeth are taking on extra stress and can get to work quickly to create an action plan.
Call our friendly staff at 661-215-8130 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at our Lancaster, California, office today.