For many of us, the news comes during a routine dental check-up. “I see you grind your teeth,” your dentist might say. The assessment might confuse you. You know for a fact you don’t grind your teeth all day. But what about at night? Many people suffer from sleep bruxism – the condition of grinding one’s teeth while they sleep – and don’t even know it. And in this case, what you don’t know can hurt you. Grinding your teeth can have many bad side effects. Fortunately, there are ways to treat the condition.
What are the side effects and complications of teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding can lead to a variety of side effects, including:
- Chronic headaches
- Pain in the jaw, face, and ears
- Cracked, damaged, or fractured teeth
- Breakage of fillings and crowns
- Wearing down and flattening of teeth
- Loose or painful teeth
In extreme cases, problems chewing, speaking, and swallowing may also occur. Long-term complications may include facial muscle enlargement, temporomandibular joint (commonly referred to as TMJ) disorders (which can cause symptoms such as pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles, limited movement of the jaw, or even shift of the way the upper and lower teeth align), and damage that requires dental procedures such as dental bonding, filling, crowns, or bridges.
Who can help and how
Who better to help you with problems related to your teeth than your dentist? If you suspect teeth grinding may be to blame for pain or other symptoms, your dentist can examine your teeth to determine if you grind them and help guide you to a solution. Mouthguards are one of the most common. They work by cushioning your teeth and stopping them from grinding against each other while you sleep. Custom-made mouthguards are more expensive than OTC options, but may be a better choice for some people because they’re fitted specifically to your jaw’s size and shape. Also, because they’re made with softer material, they’re typically more comfortable than store-bought mouthguards.
If your teeth grinding is caused by crowded, misaligned, or crooked teeth, your dentist might want to perform reductive coronoplasty. This is a dental procedure that may be used to reshape or level the biting surface of your teeth.
Teeth grinding is one of many examples of problems in your mouth that are hard for you to detect but can cause major problems. Regular check-ups with your dentist are essential to keep your mouths healthy. Learn about a high quality, low cost dental plan through ASBA.