If you suffer from a dull, constant headache, or have a sore jaw when you wake up, you may be grinding your teeth. Your loved one may also tell you that they can hear the grinding at night.
Many people grind their teeth because of stress and anxiety. But this behavior can also come from an abnormal bite or crooked or missing teeth. A sleep disorder like sleep apnea can also cause you to grind your teeth, as can excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine.
The numbers tell the story: When we chew normally, our molars bear 68 pounds of pressure per square inch. But for those who grind their teeth while sleeping, this pressure spikes up to 900 pounds – causing more than a month of normal wear.
How Grinding Can Harm Your Teeth
Chronic teeth grinding, called bruxism, can cause loosening, fracturing or even loss of teeth. The teeth can be excessively worn down, even to stumps. Significant dental work may be required to repair the damage including bridges, crowns, implants and dentures.
Continual severe grinding can damage not only your teeth but can also affect your jaws. The habit can lead to TMJ/TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, which can cause pain and stiffness in the jaw joints.
If you have any symptoms of teeth grinding or if you have been told that you are grinding your teeth, please come and see us right away. We’ll do a comprehensive exam of your teeth and mouth and will be able to detect excessive wear in your teeth.
Wearing a mouth guard or splint at night can reduce the sensation of grinding. These appliances can also reduce pain and prevent tooth wear while protecting your teeth against further damage.
Other treatments that can help stop bruxism include muscle-relaxation exercises and modifying bedtime routines to promote a healthy night of sleep.
Let Us Know If You Have Questions on Any Aspect of Oral Health Care
Dr. Lorraine Burio of Candlewood Dental Care has been treating and educating patients for over twenty-five years. Our office serves the New Fairfield, New Milford, Danbury, and Sherman areas of CT and Pawling, Patterson and Putnam Lake of New York. You can call us at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment here.