Understanding The Dental Dangers Associated With Teeth Grinding

It’s never too late to assess your smile and determine if improvements can be made. For instance, misaligned teeth can easily be corrected during adulthood. Patients are increasingly opting for Invisalign clear aligners to give them the beautiful smile they’ve always wanted.

In some cases, however, the roadblock to a brilliant smile isn’t just cosmetic. Protecting teeth from damage is critical for people who grind and clench their teeth. Over time, this condition can cause significant dental problems — not to mention disrupting the sleep of you and your partner. Thankfully, Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne can help with this issue.

Let’s begin by learning more about clenching and grinding:

Definition

Bruxism is also known as grinding and/or clenching of your teeth. It’s a very common condition that affects approximately 30 million to 40 million children and adults in the U.S.

Signs & Symptoms

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing bruxism:

  • Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles
  • A grinding sound at night
  • Jaw muscles that are tight or painful
  • Long-lasting pain in the face
  • Swelling (occasionally) on the side of your lower jaw caused by clenching

Causes of Bruxism

Misaligned teeth or an improper bite can cause you to clench or grind your teeth. But for most adults, according to the Mayo Clinic, stress and anxiety are common causes – and if you already have a grinding habit, any increased stress in your life will cause it to worsen. Bruxism can also be the result of acid reflux, the side effects of some medications or a complication of Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease. Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders often coincide with bruxism, and your risk of grinding and clenching increases if you smoke tobacco, drink caffeinated or alcoholic drinks or use illegal drugs. Colgate discusses Bruxism in detail.

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Custom Mouthguards, A Worthy Investment

While some people opt to try the drugstore “Boil & Bite” mouthguard options, these one-size-fits-all appliances are bulkier and more uncomfortable than they should be. People with smaller jaw structure may experience fatigue and soreness from having so much material in their mouth. Our custom mouthguards are designed from your dental  measurements to create a perfect one-of-a-kind fit. Many insurance plans cover a significant portion of this product. Wearing a mouthguard to bed will protect your teeth from being worn and helps to facilitate a restful sleep. You will likely save money on future dental appointments by taking this proactive approach. Your personal mouthguard can be fashioned quickly and easily.

Discover more about the problems caused by bruxism:

What the research has to say 

As you would imagine, tooth damage is one of the most common dangers of teeth grinding. When this condition is not treated, stress fractures almost always occur over time. In terms of the direct side effects associated with physically grinding your teeth, dull headaches and a sore jaw are the most common complications.

There are many individuals who experience chronic headaches. If you can relate, it’s important to understand the underlying cause. In one study, researchers examining patients with craniomandibular disorder found that bruxism and head pain were significantly higher within these patients in comparison to the control group. Continue reading at The Alternative Health Daily.

Let Us Give You More Reasons To Smile

Maintaining regular dental checkups is the best thing you can do to protect your smile from bruxism because you might not even realize you experience it. Many clients come in thinking they sleep just fine. Once we begin their oral exam and see the smooth grooves and worn enamel, it becomes apparent that they may be facing clenching and grinding issues. For other clients, clenching is a nervous habit, a way to “bite their tongue” or hold back emotions when upset or anxious. Recognizing when you are prone to bruxism and taking steps to avoid the behavior is important. This is explored further in the following post:

Risk factors

These factors increase your risk of bruxism:

Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding. So can anger and frustration.

Bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood.

Personality type. Having a personality type that’s aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase your risk of bruxism.

Medications and other substances.Bruxism may be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.

Family members with bruxism.Sleep bruxism tends to occur in families. If you have bruxism, other members of your family also may have bruxism or a history of it.

Other disorders. Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Learn more from the Mayo Clinic.

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If you experience bruxism or think you may, or if you are unhappy with your smile for any reason, schedule a dental exam with Dr. Robert Harrell at Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne. Call 704-541-9888 or use the contact form on our website to set your appointment. Dr. Harrell will assess the condition of your smile and suggest any corrective treatments that may be needed.

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