Teeth Grinding – A Difficult Problem That Affects Our Teeth
Why do we sometimes grind our teeth together when we sleep and what damage can it cause?
Some of our Chelmsford patients will no doubt have seen cartoons where the main character becomes angry and starts to ‘gnash’ their teeth together, sometimes shattering them visibly in the process. This is obviously done for dramatic effect and the reality is that it is extremely unlikely to happen in this way. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, usually happens more subtly than this and any damage done usually, although not always, occurs over a longer period of time.
Teeth grinding also usually occurs when we are asleep, making it very difficult to control. In today’s blog, we will take a look at this in a little more detail as well as offering hope for those whose teeth have already been damaged in this manner.
What causes Bruxism?
It is thought that most cases of bruxism are caused by stress and anxiety. This is becoming more common than ever in today’s society and the advent of ‘always on’ news and information has probably contributed to this. Even a relaxed mood can be changed by a quick visit to social media sites. Some people will also have circumstances which are very likely to be stress inducing. Illnesses, marital problems and financial worries are likely to be significant contributory factors for example.
Stress is not the only cause though. Sleep apnea is thought to be another factor as are some medications and also some lifestyle choices such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Recreational drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy are known to be factors too.
How can bruxism be stopped?
It can be very difficult to control our teeth grinding as it usually happens when we are asleep. We can start though by addressing some of the factors that may be contributing to it.
Some of these such as drug consumption and alcohol intake and smoking may be addressed relatively easily although some will find it more difficult than others. Even a gradual reduction in consumption might help. Stress, which is probably the main cause, may be more difficult to control depending on the cause. Your GP may be able to refer you to a relaxation specialist and methods such as meditation, relaxation exercises, visualisation and yoga may help. Even something as simple as stepping away from your screens and taking a walk in nature could help you get a more relaxed night sleep too.
Mouth guards are also available which can help to minimise the damage by preventing the teeth from coming into contact with each other. They will not address the root cause of the problem however.
What damage can be done?
For those who grind their teeth together quite aggressively, it is possible that their teeth may break, especially if they are not especially healthy teeth. In most cases though, the damage is likely to be more gradual with worn enamel being a major problem. This in itself can weaken a tooth and lead to it eventually breaking, but even worn surface enamel can cause problems such as an increased risk in tooth decay and painfully sensitive teeth.
Painful jaw problems can also occur including TMJ. If you have been suffering with a painful jaw, do discuss this with one of the dentists at Blue Sky Dental during your next routine appointment.
How can we help?
Whilst we can’t really help with stress reduction, there are a number of treatments that we have available at our Chelmsford dental surgery which can help restore teeth that have been damaged by grinding them together.
Where enamel erosion has occurred, causing sensitive teeth, porcelain veneers can be fitted to provide future protection and will also enable the patient to eat and drink hot and cold food and drinks in comfort again. Where the tooth sensitivity is caused by cracks or breakages, the tooth may need to be filled or even have a crown fitted in in some situations.
Where a tooth has been so badly damaged that it is not worth saving, it may be necessary to extract it. While dentures are available to replace the missing tooth, we recommend that our patients consider the option of having a dental implant placed instead. These provide a strong and long lasting solution for replacing missing teeth. If you currently grind your teeth, we may recommend that you postpone an implant placement as grinding teeth together could damage the implant.
If you have been under stress recently and suspect you may have been teeth grinding in your sleep, why not talk to one of our dentists to see how they can help you. You can contact Blue Sky Dental either via the form on our website or by calling us today on 01245 211070.