Many people may be grinding or clenching their teeth at night and not even know it. Teeth grinding, known as bruxism, occurs between 8-20% of the US population. Bruxism during the day is more common in females than males but night bruxism is not gender specific. Bruxism is generally more common in adolescence and young adults than the young or old.
What Causes Bruxism?
There are many different things that can cause bruxism. The most common reason for bruxism is thought to be stress and anxiety. Studies have reported a higher incidence of bruxism, especially night bruxism, in people when high stress lives. Other factors include interferences in a person’s bite or missing and crooked teeth leading to an unstable bite. Also, interferences in sleep and sleep apnea can lead to bruxism.
Because bruxism most often occurs at night, most people are unaware that they grind or clench their teeth throughout the night. People that suffer from bruxism can wake up with headaches, pain in the jaw joint (TMJ), or dull, aching tooth pain.
What is the Harm in Grinding Your Teeth?
Most people will grind or clench their teeth on occasion during the day. But constant grinding or clenching of the teeth during the day or throughout the night can lead to many dental problems. People that suffer from bruxism often wear away the enamel surface of the teeth leading to cupping on back teeth or flatting of the chewing surface of front teeth. Over time teeth can become very sensitive if enough of the enamel is lost. Due to the extra stress on gums and bone supporting the teeth, the gums can eventually begin to recede and expose the root surfaces of the teeth. Finally, many people can begin to experience problems with their jaw joint (TMJ) such has pain or popping and clicking.
How Do I Protect My Teeth from Grinding?
The best way to protect teeth from grinding and clenching is to have a custom made night guard from Gallery Park Dental. Night guards are custom fit around the top teeth and protect the top and bottom teeth from grinding into each other during the night. The night guard will absorb all of the pressure and prevent fracture of teeth or dental restorations, protect against gum recession and help to alleviate pain from the jaw joint or jaw muscles. Along with consistent wear of a night guard, patients should use stress prevention techniques and avoid caffeine or alcohol before bedtime.
If you suffer from nighttime grinding or clenching of teeth, please contact the Glenview dentists at Gallery Park Dental for a consultation today!