Teeth Grinding Bruxism

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is often viewed as a harmless, though annoying, habit. Some people develop bruxism from an inability to deal with stress or anxiety.

However, teeth grinding can literally transform your bite relationship and worse, severely damage your teeth and jaws over long periods of time.

Teeth grinding can cause abrasion to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. This abnormal wear and tear will prematurely age and loosen your teeth, and open them to problems such as hypersensitivity (from the small cracks that form, exposing your dentin.) Bruxism can also lead to chronic jaw and facial pain, as well as headaches.

If no one has told you that you grind your teeth, here are a few clues that you may suffer from bruxism:

  • Your jaw is often sore, or you hear popping sounds when you open and close your mouth.
  • headaches and facial pain
  • Your teeth look abnormally short or worn down.
  • grooves or erosion on the sides of teeth along the gum line
  • You notice small dents in your tongue.

Bruxism can develop at any age. Several factors may cause bruxism. Stressful situations, sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth.

Bruxism is somewhat treatable. A common therapy involves the use of a special appliance worn while sleeping. Night-guards custom made fit over the upper or lower teeth and prevent stressful contact between the teeth. Treatment for an abnormal bite may involve reducing the "high spots" on one or more teeth to balance the bite relationship. For more involved cases, the teeth need to be restored with onlays or crowns to rebuild a proper bite. Less intrusive, though just as effective methods could involve biofeedback, and physical therapy.

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