Grinding teeth is a common dental problem that can cause multiple problems in the mouth and jaw. Known as bruxism, this issue occurs in many patients throughout their life, typically in times of stress or anxiety. This problem occurs when the jaw muscles tighten, causing teeth to move and rub against one another. Bruxism can be a stand-alone problem or a corollary symptom of TMJ. Occasionally grinding teeth is not particularly harmful, however, for some dental patients this problem occurs regularly. Chronic grinding of teeth typically occurs during sleep and thus remains undetected by many patients unless their partner happens to witness the problem.
Grinding teeth can be a problem because it wears at the enamel and structure of teeth over time. This can cause fractures, wearing away of the enamel, tooth breakage, fracturing, and even loss of teeth. Anxiety and stress may cause bruxism temporarily but typically long term bruxism is caused by missing teeth or a misaligned jaw or bite that encourages jaw movement and grinding during sleep. Extreme cases of bruxism may result or correlate with TMJ and jaw tension, causing further muscle or jaw problems and even altering the structure of the face. Without a witness to notice teeth grinding during the night, the only signs may be a tender jaw or soreness in the morning or, ultimately, damage to the teeth. Regular dental visits can also help diagnose the problem as your dentist can find signs of wear or unusual jaw alignment.
If you are nervous and concerned that you may be grinding teeth in your sleep, you should consult your dentist. Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard that can protect your teeth during sleep. Other, less intensive treatments may involve diagnosis of stress and stress relief that can ease tension in your muscles, jaw exercises that will help relax the muscles in your jaw and reduce grinding, and even cutting back on caffeine or alcohol which can intensify grinding. Your dentist is, ultimately, your best resource to stop and treat any tooth grinding problems you might have.
What if going to the dentist terrifies you? In East Brunswick and the New Jersey area, Dr. Nahel Yanni is your answer to all your dental problems. Specializing in sedation dentistry and in patients suffering from fear of the dentist, Dr. Yanni’s office can provide consultations to even the most nervous patient. Even house calls are an option! It is important that with a chronic problem like bruxism that you receive dental care to prevent extreme difficulties and tooth loss. Dr. Yanni’s trained staff can discuss treatment options with you and help relieve your anxiety about both your visit and treatments for grinding teeth.