Dental health problems have far-reaching consequences if they are not addressed early and teeth grinding is no different. If you suspect you are a teeth grinder or are concerned that your child might be grinding their teeth, you should deal with it as soon as possible.
What Is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding or bruxism is a condition where someone clenches, grinds or gnashes their teeth. If you are a teeth grinder, you may unconsciously clench during waking hours or grind, clench, or gnash your teeth while asleep. The latter is known as sleep bruxism and is typically co-occurring with other sleep issues like sleep apnea or snoring.
For mild bruxism, treatment is likely unnecessary. However, for those with bruxism causing headaches, damaged teeth, and jaw disorders, dental treatment is necessary. It’s important to know the symptoms because if you have sleep bruxism, you might not know until complications begin.
If you see chipped or fractured teeth, this is a sign of bruxism, as are loose teeth. If your teeth are sensitive, you experience tooth pain, have worn enamel, or tight, tired jaw muscles, you may have bruxism. This can lead to face pain, soreness or pain in your jaw and neck area. This type of pain may present as an earache or a dull headache in your temples. There may also be visible damage to the inside of your cheeks. Some people may clench and grind their teeth loud enough to wake others. It may also disrupt your sleep.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
There is a variety of reasons for teeth grinding. In children, it is often a result of oral discomfort. With new teeth coming in and realigning things it can result in temporary teeth grinding. It can also come on as the result of allergies or minor illnesses. Additionally, changes in inner ear pressure can trigger it, this would be similar to the ear pressure changes you would experience on a flight. If it’s an ongoing issue, then the teeth grinding may be a result of something more serious. Similarly to adults, children may grind their teeth due to fear, anxiety or stress. These are the most common reasons for adults to teeth grinding.
Alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and illegal substances can also contribute to teeth grinding. As can certain medications, such as SSRIs.
Impacts of Long-Term Grinding
There are a few major issues that come from long-term teeth grinding.
- Pain is perhaps the most obvious impact. The more you grind your teeth and clench your jaw, the more pressure you place on the muscles and joints around your jaw. This can result in earaches, facial pain, as well as stiffness and pain in your jaw.
- Headaches are a common side effect of long-term grinding. It may be a tension headache that plagues you, but some people experience migraines from the constant pressure on their jaw and facial muscles.
- Constant grinding can damage your joint and muscle structure leading to jaw disorders like TMD. TMD can result in severe shoulder, neck and facial pain, that affects how you speak, swallow and chew.
- The most common side effect of grinding and clenching is tooth damage. Long-term grinding wears down the enamel and surface of teeth which causes tooth sensitivity and can wear teeth down as well. It can also cause chips, cracks, fractures, loose teeth, and damage existing bridges, fillings, and crowns.
- Gum recession is most commonly caused by teeth grinding. As grinding causes your teeth to loosen and shift, it creates space for bacteria to come in and cause gum recession.
When To See Your Dentist
If you see any of these symptoms or signs in yourself, you should make an appointment to speak to your dentist. While the dental hygienist can offer you the teeth cleaning you need, the dentist can help address the major structural issues. It’s especially important to see the dentist if your child has persistent grinding issues. The normal childhood grinding should be over by the time their adult teeth are fully grown in.
Whether you need an emergency dentist or you would like to visit a Camden dentist to discuss dental veneers or the cost of dental implants, Aesthetic Dental & Denture Clinic can help. We offer Afterpay dental on a variety of treatments and would be happy to discuss your options with you.