Grinding your teeth (bruxism) can lead to dental issues, such as tooth sensitivity and gum inflammation. Fight bruxism at the source to mitigate dental damage.
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a common phenomenon. Bruxism can occur in your sleep (nocturnal bruxism) or during the day (awake bruxism). A lot of people grind their teeth, so let’s talk about it!
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
There can be many root sources to bruxism. Snoring and sleep talking, as well as sleep apnea, could result in teeth grinding at night. Tobacco use, caffeine, and alcohol consumption can increase the risk of bruxism, especially if consumed before bedtime. Tooth or bite misalignment could also lead to teeth grinding.
Negative emotions — particularly stress, anger, anxiety, and frustration — are another common cause of bruxism. These negative feelings could also result in sleep issues that further aggravate bruxism. Intense concentration, especially during the work day, could also cause you to grind your teeth.
With Bruxism, your teeth directly receive all the force when you’re grinding them, unlike when you’re chewing food. As a result, this could result in dental health issues and complications such as:
- Abnormal tooth wear. This includes flattened teeth, fractured teeth, and even loosened teeth. Both teeth and implants could be chipped or cracked due to bruxism.
- Increased tooth sensitivity. Wear from bruxism can diminish tooth enamel, exposing sensitive layers and heightening physical sensations.
- Gum pain. Worn-down enamel from grinding your teeth can lead to gum recession and inflamed gums. This could result in gum pain and tooth sensitivity alike.
In order to fully address your teeth grinding habits, you must understand and address the underlying cause of your bruxism. Before you seek medical help, there are a few ways you could prevent teeth grinding from home and manage your symptoms.
- Wear a mouthguard — Also known as an occlusal splint, mouthguards act as a buffer between your teeth when you grind them. There are a variety of mouthguards available over-the-counter.
- Work out your muscles — Performing jaw and tongue exercises, as well as gently massaging your jaw muscles to relax them, can help prevent bruxism and counteract any related facial pain. Try this one now: to relax your jaw, open your mouth while touching your tongue to your top front teeth.
- Watch your emotions — If you feel your bruxism is caused by negative emotions, try to bring a stress management practice into your life like exercise, meditation, journaling, or even therapy. These practices can also help improve your sleep and prevent nocturnal bruxism.
The most important at-home habit is to try and notice when you’re grinding your teeth in the moment, so you can stop and implement your remedy of choice. Also, keep track of your symptoms regularly so you can discover patterns and maintain your dental health.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you try a few home remedies without success, you can turn to your dentist for help. In particular, if your teeth grinding has led to repeated broken fillings, fractured crowns, or worn down gums and teeth, it’s time to seek medical attention.
While you may never be able to completely stop grinding your teeth, you can certainly counteract bruxism and limit potential damage. Along with fixing any pressing dental issues, your dentist could recommend a more intensive and personalized treatment for your specific teeth grinding habits and concerns. This could range from a custom-fit mouthguard to orthodontic procedures that adjust your bite or realign your teeth.
At Espire Dental, we can help you understand where your bruxism stems from to find the right treatment and intervention plan. Prevent injury to your teeth and gums while fixing any existing dental issues caused by teeth grinding. Call our La Mesa offices at (619) 430-2616 to request an appointment, or contact us online today for a healthy and beautiful smile!