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What to Know About Teeth Grinding and How it Impacts Your Oral Health

Chronic teeth grinding can damage teeth and cause other oral health complications, yet many people do not realize that they do it until it has already started causing damage. Also known as “bruxism,” chronic teeth grinding affects many people at night while they are sleeping. However, even those who chronically grind or clench their teeth during waking hours may not be aware that they are doing it.

Potential Causes of Teeth Grinding

Because involuntary tension causes the muscles in the face and jaw to expand and contract, chronic stress is considered a primary cause of bruxism. Ironically, side effects in some antidepressant drugs have also been linked to involuntary teeth grinding.

In recent years, researchers have focused on the link between sleep apnea and bruxism. Teeth grinding may be a bodily defense mechanism that helps reopen blocked airways caused by sleep apnea. The blocked airways in sleep apnea happen during the deepest stages of sleep due to the full relaxation of the jaw and tongue. The grinding helps move them away from the airways, allowing for normal breathing but with subsequent disruption of sleep.

Lastly, those with an abnormal bite, or missing or crooked teeth, are believed to be much more susceptible to bruxism.

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

Milder cases of bruxism may not initially cause any symptoms at all, but more severe cases typically cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Consistent headaches, especially on the sides of your head
  • Soreness around the jaws, teeth, and gums, especially after awakening
  • Sores on the insides of the cheeks
  • Broken or dislodged dental work, such as fillings and crowns
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Teeth sensitivity to heat, cold, and sweetness
  • Teeth that feel flatter and less sharp
  • Sleep troubles
  • Earaches
  • Nighttime anxiety and tension

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or a loved one or roommate alerts you that they hear you grinding teeth while sleeping, inform your dentist. They can assess your mouth and jaw for potential oral health impacts and determine the best strategies for mitigating further damage. 

Marco Island Dentist Details Bruxism Complications and Fixes

With up to 30 percent of American adults affected by some form of bruxism, Dr. Jonathan Van Dyke frequently sees patients with related dental issues at his Island Tower Dentistry practice in Marco Island, Florida. Along with wearing down the teeth, chronic teeth grinding can erode the enamel, loosen teeth, and even crack, chip, or fracture them. Teeth surfaces that have been compromised by grinding are more susceptible to bacteria infusion that can lead to tooth decay. Chronic grinding can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), a painful condition that impedes the proper movement of your jaw.

To treat bruxism, Dr. Van Dyke often recommends the use of a custom-fitted nightguard that protects teeth from grinding. If the bruxism is stress-related, he might recommend that you speak to your doctor about stress-reducing options. Small lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can lower stress levels and perhaps reduce or eliminate chronic grinding. 

Learn More at Island Tower Dentistry

If you suspect that you might be chronically grinding your teeth, Dr. Van Dyke can assess your mouth and jaw for potential damage and make a plan to stave off further damage. To book your appointment, contact Island Tower Dentistry today at 239-394-1004.

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