Bruxism, or the clenching and grinding of your teeth, is a condition that occurs in both adults and children. It is often done unconsciously and happens day or night, although it is much more common at night, while you are sleeping, when it is known as sleep bruxism. It can be caused by any number of issues and can cause some severe dental problems.
Causes of Bruxism
There are several causes of bruxism. You may grind your teeth because they are misaligned. Stress and anxiety can cause you to unconsciously clench your jaw or grind your teeth, especially while you sleep. It can also be due to sleep apnea. It may also be the side effect of certain medications.
So what happens when you grind and clench your teeth? Continual grinding can wear away at enamel, the hard protective outer layer of your teeth. Over time, this can expose the dentin, where canals to the roots of your teeth are open, leading to tooth sensitivity. You can break fillings and damage dental work. With significant grinding, you can even cause your gums to recede, which can also lead to sensitivity, loosen your teeth and even damage the jawbone.
You may also suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joint allows you to move your jaw. Damage to this joint from constant clenching and grinding leads to chronic pain in the joint, clicking and popping while eating and even difficulty opening your mouth.
What Can You Do?
If you feel that you clench and grind your teeth, or notice any symptoms, talk to your dentist. He or she will perform an exam to look for evidence of grinding. If you have any misalignments, they will be corrected. Any damaged or ruined teeth should be repaired. You may also be given, or recommended to get, a mouth guard for sleeping in order to prevent further damage.
Don’t let clenching and grinding your teeth cause severe damage. If you notice any signs of wear or suspect that you are suffering from bruxism, contact our office right away.