Teeth Grinding: How You Can Find Relief From This Troubling Condition
Teeth grinding is not a harmless, nervous habit that can be discontinued with a little willpower. Instead, teeth grinding is an involuntary activity that can cause those affected needless pain and suffering.
If you grind your teeth and don’t know why or how to stop, keep reading. Below, you’ll find more information about this dental disorder and some ways that dentists can treat teeth grinding.
Why Teeth Grinding Is Such a Problem
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common problem affecting up to one in five Americans, with women more likely to fall victim than men. For some persons affected, the effects from teeth grinding are minor and are little more than a minor annoyance.
However, for many others, teeth grinding is a significant problem that leads to dental injury. In fact, teeth grinding can cause serious enamel wear, tooth decay, and even tooth fracturing.
In addition, teeth grinding causes other harmful side effects including the aggravation of jaw-joint disorders, headaches, and loosened teeth. The loud noises generated by nighttime teeth grinders can also disturb sleeping partners, which strains relationships as a consequence.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Teeth Grinding
If you grind your teeth while you sleep, you may feel like you have no control over this problem. While you can’t force yourself to behave differently while you sleep, you can prevent teeth grinding or mitigate its effects with help from your dentist.
Preventing teeth grinding is not always simple, as its causes are not clearly understood. Some health care researchers and professionals believe teeth grinding is due to innate behaviors or genetics. Others believe it’s caused by anxiety or medications. Some patients’ bruxism is probably caused by more than one factor.
Regardless of the cause, dentists can prescribe treatments to alleviate teeth grinding. The most common devices to treat teeth grinding are dental guards and splints. The purpose of splints and guards varies depending on the treatment goals of the dentist, and patients often have to experiment to find the approach that works best for them.
Generally, patients wear splints or guards for two reasons.
1. Prevent Damage
Patients often wear splints and guards in an effort to prevent damaging the teeth. These devices serve as a barrier between the upper and lower teeth and reduce the amount of rubbing that occurs between the two sets of teeth.
While these devices don’t stop your teeth from grinding, they will make the grinding essentially harmless for your teeth. As long as your bruxism doesn’t aggravate your jaw or cause headaches or other symptoms, this kind of splint or guard may work for you.
2. Prevent Jaw Movement
In other instances, splints and guards are designed to partially immobilize the jaw and prevent movement altogether. If your teeth grinding causes secondary symptoms like jaw problems, this option may be best for you. Alternatively, some dentists prescribe mouth guards that will actually realign the entire bite pattern, hopefully resulting in the teeth moving past each other altogether.
Dental splints and guards can introduce some unpleasant side effects such as gagging or excess saliva production. However, a dentist can adjust the type of guard or change wearing habits to help lessen or eliminate the negative effects.
Other ways to reduce teeth grinding can include medication and therapy to reduce anxiety and stress. If your teeth grinding is extreme or isn’t helped by splints and guards, your dentist might suggest that you seek out these alternatives from a medical doctor or a trained health care professional.
If you are experiencing teeth grinding, your next step should be to contact a dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist can help find a treatment alternative that will best protect your teeth plus alleviate the troubling symptoms of teeth grinding.