People who clench and grind their teeth throughout the day or while sleeping at night are typically completely unaware that they do so. However, this habit can be extremely damaging to one’s smile, wearing down enamel and slowly causing teeth to move out of alignment. While there are different causes for this condition that is medically known as bruxism, there are underlying causes for the condition in individual cases. Most people assume that teeth grinding is the result of stress. This factor can contribute to the situation, although, it is typically the result of an abnormal bite, missing teeth, or teeth that are not properly aligned.
Anyone who suspects that they may grind their teeth can look for several different indicators that will make them aware that they have developed this habit. In addition to consulting your dentist for signs of damage, people suffering from bruxism will typically experience dull headaches on a regular basis or consistently wake up with a sore jaw. Although grinding your teeth may not seem to be immediately harmful, the consequences of this habit over time can have a rather serious impact on your oral health.
Over time, grinding and clenching can loosen teeth in the gums. It can also cause fracturing or even the complete loss of an individual tooth. In the event that grinding wears down a tooth excessively, an individual may need to have crowns, implants, bridges, or dentures put in place in order to correct the problem. Severe cases that go unchecked can result in problems with the jaw that can eventually impact one’s appearance or alter your ability to hear due to the proximity of the ear canal.
There are several steps that can be taken with the assistance of your dentist to help you stop grinding and clenching your teeth before any real damage occurs. The first precaution that is generally taken involves creating a mouth guard that is worn during sleep. If it is determined that your teeth are correctly aligned and stress is the underlying problem, then you can work with your doctor and dentist in order to develop strategies for relieve stress within your life. These strategies typically include stress counseling, physical therapy, or muscle relaxers that are available through a prescription.
In many cases, the problem can be curbed by avoiding certain drinks and foods in conjunction with taking some physical steps on your own. Patients are encouraged to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine in addition to avoiding alcohol which intensifies these tendencies. You can also slowly train your body to break the habit by avoiding the habit of chewing on items such as pencils and consciously relaxing your jaw when you notice that your are tensing the muscles. Both children and adults can suffer from this condition, making it essential to address the problem before it does any serious damage. Taking control of the situation and working with your dentist can alleviate any symptoms that you may be having and save your smile in addition to reducing stress.