Do you experience headaches and jaw pain? Do you have damaged teeth from unknown causes?
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a dental concern that can create complex dental problems over time. It is often the symptom of an underlying bite or TMJ-related problem. Approximately 10–15% of Americans moderately to severely grind their teeth.
Sometimes, patients do not even know that they grind their teeth but come into our office with significant signs. Dr. Gregory Hillyard, Dr. Alexandra Monroe, and our Media, PA dental team, will examine tooth damage at every dental visit to identify bruxism before symptoms worsen.
Bruxism: Causes and Signs
There are several different reasons people grind their teeth:
- Stress or anxiety
- Malocclusion (improper alignment of the teeth)
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)
- Parkinson’s or Huntington’s Disease
- Side effects of certain medications
In addition, common symptoms of bruxism may include:
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
- Tooth sensitivity
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
If you have noticed any of these signs, please contact Dr. Hillyard and Dr. Monroe. They will conduct an examination to determine if your symptoms are attributed to bruxism or another dental concern.
The Lasting Impacts of Bruxism
If you let bruxism go, it’s likely to develop into a TMJ disorder. This can cause extreme stress and pain around the joint that connects your jaw to the cranium. You may find that your jaw starts to click or pop when you’re trying to use it. You may even notice that it’s hard to open or close your mouth and that your jaw isn’t functioning properly.
Untreated bruxism can also cause chronic pain. While it typically resides around the jaw, ears, and head, the stress from clenching and grinding your teeth can travel down into your neck and shoulders as well. Chronic pain is a serious condition that can lead to other issues. Mental health problems like depression and anxiety can be aggravated because you’re dealing with this constant pain.
Lastly, bruxism doesn’t just cause issues with teeth and bones. It can impact the gum tissue as well. This connective tissue is what holds your teeth in place. It can break down from bruxism, leading to deterioration and your teeth loosening or even falling out.
There are multiple treatment options to lessen the pain and damage caused by teeth clenching and grinding:
Mouthguards or night guards: One of the most impactful treatments for teeth grinding is a custom oral appliance or mouthguard that can be worn during the day or at night. Custom-made to fit comfortably over the teeth, a mouthguard is designed to facilitate natural jaw position and tooth contact.
Restorative dentistry: Tooth bonding, dental crowns, or restorative dental procedures may be used to address tooth damage, worn teeth or to make adjustments in how they come into contact when biting down. These solutions are best for patients who have severe damage to their tooth enamel.
Orthodontics: Clear braces like Invisalign and ClearCorrect may be considered necessary if an uneven bite is a cause of your teeth grinding and related bite problems. Straightening teeth can actually stop bruxism at the source.
Bruxism Frequently Asked Questions
What is the root cause of teeth grinding?
Various factors can trigger teeth grinding. Stress and anxiety are common factors. It can also be related to an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth, or a sleep disorder. Some people might grind their teeth without a clear cause. Regardless of the source, it’s essential to manage it since prolonged grinding can damage teeth and lead to other oral health complications. Always consult a dental professional if you suspect you’re grinding your teeth.
How do you tell if you grind your teeth in your sleep?
If you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep, you might not realize it until symptoms appear. You could wake up with a headache or a sore jaw. Sometimes, your loved one might hear the grinding at night. In severe cases, chronic teeth grinding can lead to fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your dentist.
Can grinding teeth cause gum recession?
Yes, grinding your teeth can contribute to gum recession. The excessive force exerted on your teeth and gums can cause gum recession. This is because the pressure can cause the teeth to shift. As a result, the gums may recede in response to the movement and pressure. Also, grinding can wear down the teeth, leading to gum recession.
Can retainers help with teeth grinding?
Retainers may provide some protection and relief for minor tooth grinding. However, we do not recommend using retainers for teeth grinding. Manufacturers do not design them to withstand the damage that teeth take during grinding. Instead, a custom mouthguard is a better solution for teeth grinding. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about getting custom mouthguards. Retainers are not a long-term solution to this issue. A custom mouthguard is a much better option.
Does grinding teeth cause cavities?
Grinding your teeth won’t directly cause cavities. However, it can contribute to conditions that increase the risk of developing them. Teeth grinding can wear down tooth enamel, the protective outer layer of the teeth. This can make teeth more vulnerable to decay and cavities. Once the enamel has significant wear, your teeth are more exposed and susceptible to cavities. Regular dental check-ups and wearing a night guard can help manage the effects of grinding.
Why is my baby grinding their teeth?
Babies grind their teeth for various reasons. It could be their response to the sensation of new teeth coming in. Many babies experience teething between six months and two years old. It can also be a way for them to relieve pain or discomfort from earaches or teething. Your baby could also be grinding their teeth because the top and bottom teeth aren’t in alignment yet. Lastly, babies grinding their teeth may simply be a habit. If you’re concerned, consulting a pediatric dentist is always a good idea.
Schedule a Dental Exam & Consultation
To request a dental appointment or consultation, call our Media, Pennsylvania dental office at 610.756.0649. We are here to help, not judge. Schedule a dental exam today.