The Nightly Grind: How Bruxism Causes Dental Damage

By Ettienne Van Zyl on September 07, 2016

A mouth guard to be worn at night for teeth grinding (bruxism)The team at the van Zyl Center for Advanced Dentistry want to help the people of Memphis smile with absolute confidence. In some cases, this means providing the most advanced general dentistry treatments possible, with a focus on function and wellness in addition to smile aesthetics.

Teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) is a a common problem that many patients face. Let's take a moment to go over the basics of teeth grinding and the various dangers it poses to your dental health and overall well being.

About Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding refers to the gnashing, clenching, shifting, and movement of the jaw that occurs during sleep. In many cases, the grinding is the result of the inability to find a relaxed jaw position.

When this occurs, it can place a great deal of stress on the teeth, gums, and other structures of the head and mouth. It's been estimated that teeth grinding affects 14 percent of children, 8 percent of middle-aged adults, and 3 percent of the elderly.

Common Causes of Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Some of the most common causes of teeth grinding include the following:

  • Poor dental alignment
  • Excessive stress
  • Side effects from drugs/medications
  • Sleep apnea
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Huntington's disease
  • Acid reflux

Tooth Damage and Injuries

Given the stress placed directly on the teeth, one of the most common dangers of teeth grinding is related to tooth damage. Grinding can lead to major wear and tear on the enamel of a tooth, making chips, cracks, and more significant kinds of damage far more likely. The shifting and clenching can also cause pain in the temples and ear just given the way the hard and soft tissue structures of the cranium are attached to the jaw.

Gum Recession

The stress placed on the teeth has effects on the gums as well. Teeth grinding has been shown to contribute to gum recession, which is the loss of gum tissue from around a tooth. Gum recession means that more of a tooth's root structure is exposed, making it more susceptible to tooth decay below the gumline. Gum recession can also make loose teeth and outright tooth loss more likely.

TMJ Disorders (TMD)

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complicated joint in the body. It's the juncture between the jawbone and the cranium, and it must make many kinds of movements for a person to speak, eat, and make facial expressions. Teeth grinding can lead to a number of issues with the cartilage, nerves, muscles, and bone in the joint. This in turn can lead to clicking, locking, popping, and pain in the jaw, which is known as a TMJ disorder (TMD).

Treatments for Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

To treat teeth grinding, the most common option to alleviate symptoms is the use of a night guard. This is a protective retainer worn during sleep that prevents direct contact between the upper and lower teeth. This reduces the possibility of tooth damage and also eases stress on the jaw joint.

Other treatments may be considered to treat the root cause of the teeth grinding. Orthodontic care may be recommended to improve dental alignment and prevent grinding. Stress relief and management techniques may also be considered to help prevent problems with grinding triggered by anxiety.

Addressing Dental Problems Related to Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

If you experience issues with tooth damage, gum recession, and so forth, there are many restorative treatments that can prove helpful. These can be discussed in greater detail during your visit to the practice for a consultation.

Learn More About Treating Teeth Grinding

For more information about teeth grinding and how we can help you have a healthy smile, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at van Zyl Center for Advanced Dentistry is here to help you achieve total dental wellness.

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