Old habits die hard, and that can be even more true when it comes to things we do almost subconsciously. Some people are already gnawing down nail number three before they even realize they’ve started biting at their fingers again, and others light up a cigarette when getting in the car as though it were an essential component to turning the engine on. Understanding why and when we perform certain behaviors is crucial in trying to curb them, and when it comes to grinding your teeth (also known as bruxism), there can be many factors at play. Today, we’re exploring the reasons for, and treatments of, bruxism.
Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth is known medically as bruxism, and many people with this condition aren’t even aware that they have it. Some estimates put the number of American men, women, and children with bruxism as high as 40 million. Bruxism can come in many forms, and there are some people who only clench or grind while sleeping at night. This condition is known as nocturnal bruxism. Those patients who clench or grind during the day may do so for a number of reasons, most notably because of stress or anxiety. Alternatively, some people simply develop a habit of grinding their teeth around with no cause rooted in negative emotions, and there are also people for whom bruxism is a sign of another issue altogether. In rare cases, teeth grinding is a sign of a disease or illness that impacts the nerves and muscles of the face.
Treating the Problem
When left unchecked, bruxism can cause chipped, broken, or damaged teeth as well as worn down enamel. Any damage to the structure of the tooth leaves you exposed to a higher risk of cavities, decay, and eventual tooth loss. To properly treat your bruxism, it’s important to first figure out the root cause of the issue. For those patients who grind their teeth during particularly stressful or emotional moments, seeking treatment for stress may be the best option. Seeing a counselor, meditating, working out, and eating a balanced diet are all great ways to help manage stress. Additionally, recognizing when certain situations are becoming stressful and working to remain calm and focus tension away from your jaw are good ways to keep your teeth safe. Patients who grind subconsciously in their sleep may need to be fitted with a nighttime mouth guard. These plastic devices are form fitted to your mouth and help to prevent your teeth from touching and rubbing in the night. Your dentist will be able to fit you with one in the office and you’ll be on your way to a healthier mouth!
If grinding your teeth is a problem for you, seeking help from your dentist as soon as possible will help set you on the path toward stopping the behavior and having a healthier mouth altogether.
To schedule an appointment to talk about your bruxism, give us a call at Aurora Dental Group today!