Teeth Grinding: More than just a bad habit, it’s a dental concern

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching most often start during the night. Daily stresses or anxiety can provide the impetus for this nightly habit. There are resources to help determine the cause, but most often the best place to start is at your dental office.

Although teeth grinding may start at night, since it is a habit it can continue throughout the day. Unless conscious thought is given to prevent grinding and clenching, it can quickly escalate without much awareness. Damage can be done that could have been prevented.

What are some of the dental concerns resulting from teeth grinding?

  1. Wearing teeth down – Although dental enamel and the tooth itself is very strong, constant pressure from grinding and clenching can wear the teeth down over time.
  2. Cracked or broken teeth – The continuous pressure can actually result in cracked or broken teeth. When this happens, a dental crown may be needed to salvage the tooth. It is possible the nerve of the tooth has been exposed to bacteria that may result in an infection. A root canal is usually the course of action if this occurs.
  3. Malocclusion – When the upper teeth do not properly align with the bottom teeth, the result is a bite that is off. This can actually encourage teeth grinding, which is often why the dentist will try to adjust the bite when grinding is suspected.
  4. Discomfort – Grinding and jaw clenching can contribute to aches in teeth, jaws, ears, neck and the head. Sometimes these aches may be the only indicator that you are grinding throughout the night or a partner may actually hear the grinding. If this is suspected, a call to your dental office is recommended.

One of the first steps to try to discourage nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching is through the use of a mouth guard. A mouth guard fabricated and fitted specifically for you is going to provide the ultimate comfort and best design to help you overcome this habit.

Our dental team can inform you of the different styles and materials available to make your nighttime device. Although there are generic mouth guards available, for the utmost in functionality and comfort, your dentist is going to be able to fit your needs with a mouth guard tailored exactly for you.