An unconscious habit, teeth grinding (bruxism) can damage teeth extensively. As teeth scrape against one another night after night, they will begin to lose some of their enamel. Losing enamel is troublesome because without enamel teeth become much weaker. Bacteria, for instance, can succeed in damaging teeth much more quickly when dentin, the softer layer beneath enamel, is exposed. In addition, enamel loss can weaken teeth’s structural integrity, making them unable to withstand powerful forces. Thus, the end result of untreated bruxism is often one or more broken teeth that must receive dental crowns. However, your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. James Hawks, can prevent this unpleasant conclusion by diagnosing and treating your teeth grinding habit.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
As you might expect, tooth sensitivity is one of the most common symptoms experienced by people who grind their teeth. Sensitivity is especially likely to occur in the morning immediately following sleep. Other signs that you may be grinding your teeth include a sore jaw, a popping noise that occurs when you open and close your mouth, earaches, and frequent headaches. These symptoms stem from the stress that bruxism creates for the jaw joints, or temporomandibular joints (TMJs), and may indicate a TMJ disorder that has developed as a result of bruxism.
Despite these many symptoms, one of the best ways to identify a teeth grinding habit is to attend dental checkups regularly. During these checkups, your West Des Moines dentist, Dr. Hawks, will examine your teeth thoroughly, and because bruxism leaves visible signs of wear on teeth, Dr. Hawks, can often spot bruxism even without being informed of any other symptoms.
Bruxism Treatment in West Des Moines
If Dr. Hawks discovers that you are grinding your teeth, he will most likely recommend a dental mouthguard for you to wear when you sleep. The mouthguard prevents teeth from touching each other so that they will not be forced to withstand any more damage. Dental mouthguards are designed to fit securely over teeth and are less bulky than the mouthguards that are designed for wear during sporting events. These design elements make them more comfortable for patients to wear during sleep.
About James M. Hawks, DDS: James M. Hawks, DDS has been practicing general and cosmetic dentistry since 1985. Patients can contact Dr. Hawks at (515) 225-6665 to schedule an appointment or a consultation.