When you visit the dentist, you expect to hear about gum disease and cavities. You may hope that you don’t hear words like root canal. Something you may not even think about when you head into the dental office is bruxism. This condition can be somewhat tricky because it’s pretty darn sly. The grinding and clenching that is called bruxism typically doesn’t happen right before your eyes. Most often, it occurs when you are sleeping. Because of this, detecting and understanding the causes of bruxism can be a challenge. But doing so is important to your comfort and oral health.
Consequences of Clenching
Clenching the jaw and grinding teeth can lead to a number of secondary concerns, and these can become quite uncomfortable. There is intense force that goes on during this activity, so there is good reason to at least blunt it, if not stop it altogether. Some of the problems that have been associated with bruxism include TMJ disorder, gum recession (which can lead to root caries), enamel wear (which can shorten your teeth!), and fractures.
Uncovering the Cause
In order to minimize the damage that can be done by clenching and grinding, it is necessary to identify the cause. Two major causes include stress and malocclusion.
- Stress affects us in numerous ways. Whether we intend to or not, we may subconsciously work through stresses as we doze off, and even throughout our cycles of sleep. If stress is a problem for you, find ways to mitigate it that can be easily implemented into your day. You don’t have to be a yogi to find greater peace from stress. Simple breathing exercises or extra vitamin B may be excellent methods of coping with stress.
- Malocclusion is a condition in which the upper and lower teeth are not in line. This creates stress on the jaw, as well as teeth, because muscles, joints, and tendons must work harder to get opposing teeth to meet when you chew. Correction may be achieved with orthodontics or possibly with dental crowns, depending on the severity of the condition.
Many people with bruxism find relief in a custom-fit night guard. This comfortable appliance is worn when you sleep, blunting the force of clenching in order to prevent tooth damage.
If you suspect that you may clench or grind, bring this up during your next dental check-up. We’re happy to work with you to maintain your healthiest smile!