Habitual teeth grinding, clinically known as bruxism, places an excessive amount of pressure on your teeth and jaws. Clenching your jaw and teeth is common in moments of stress, frustration, and anger, but continuous strain often leads to excessively worn or damaged teeth and a host of subsequent dental problems. Downey dentist, Dr. Pasha Hakimzadeh, can help repair dental injuries caused by teeth grinding and rebuild your smile’s function and appearance. However, he warns that the damages may be extensive, and detecting and treating bruxism early through diligent dental care is preferable to allowing the habit to wreak havoc with your smile.
Sensitive, Damaged Teeth
The protective layer of enamel that surrounds your teeth is highly resilient, and with good dental hygiene, it can remain strong enough to withstand the repetitive impact of biting and chewing. Under a barrage of consistent grinding, enamel can begin to wear down, exposing the sensitive dentin underneath and causing teeth to grow sensitive. Left unchecked, excessive wear can become structural damage in the form of chips and cracks, which can expose a tooth’s vulnerable nerves and blood vessels (pulp) in the center. Restorative treatment, such as a dental crown, can restore and protect your damaged teeth, but if bruxism continues, your restorative work can suffer damage, as well.
Distressed Jaw Joints
The strain from habitual teeth grinding can also tax the joints and muscles that control your jaw’s movement. When your jaw’s joints, or TMJs, become fatigued, they can exhibit inflammation, sustain damage, or become misaligned, leading to TMJ disorder. Conversely, distressed TMJs can cause spasms in the jaw’s muscles, or force them to continuously shift as they try to get comfortable. Treating the underlying cause of bruxism, which can be a crooked bite, missing teeth, or excessive stress, can help stop the habit and allow your jaw joints to heal, relieving the discomfort associated with TMJ disorder.
To stop grinding your teeth, an accurate diagnosis is required to determine the cause. If grinding occurs because your teeth are crooked, then orthodontic treatment can straighten them and help realign your bite. Missing teeth can be replaced, often with dental implants, to restore your full rank of teeth and restore your mouth’s ability to properly displace bite pressure. After a thorough examination, Dr. Hakimzadeh will consult with you to discuss your condition and the appropriate course of treatment. To protect your teeth, he may recommend a custom-designed sleepguard, similar to a mouthguard worn by athletes, to prevent your upper teeth from coming into contact with your lower teeth while you sleep.