Grinding teeth absent-mindedly during the night while sleeping, or sometimes in the day, is called bruxism. Mild occasional grinding and clenching won’t cause a big problem, but habitual and continual grinding that happens nightly can lead to some major problems that can end up costing a lot to fix.
Bruxism can be a side effect of medication, caused by stress and anxiety, sleep apnea, or is the result of a mismatched bite or crooked teeth. It’s hard to tell if you grind your teeth at night because you’re unconscious! But there are signs to watch out for. If your jaw or mouth feels sore in the morning, this is a telltale sign. A frequent and mild headache could be another indicator. If you sleep with another person, they will be able to see it happening or perhaps overhear your teeth clicking, biting, or gnashing together. Teeth grinding also puts a lot of pressure on the gums, too, so if your gums are receding, this could be a sign of bruxism.
It’s important to visit your local dentist if you suspect you are grinding your teeth. A state-of-the-art office like Hawthorne Village Dental Care that specializes in modern dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and providing high-quality oral devices can make you a custom-fit mouth guard to stop the grinding from happening. This guard is superior to generic drugstore implements because it is made from an exact mold of your teeth and gums and fits comfortably in your mouth compared to a bulky, makeshift stand-in. A professionally-made mouth guard also lasts longer if it is properly taken care of. A generic kind is bulky and can put uncomfortable pressure on your cheeks, which might lead you to avoid wearing it as often as you should.
Stopping your teeth from grinding with a guard is important because of the damage that can be done to your teeth, gums, and mouth otherwise. Teeth with fillings and crowns can crack, natural teeth can be chipped and damaged, gum recession is permanent and requires surgery to correct (one that involves removing small sections of the lining of your cheeks), grinding can loosen the teeth, making gaps where plaque, debris, and bacteria can collect, and teeth can even be worn down to stumps or fall out.
In addition to a mouth guard, it’s helpful to try and prevent the grinding from happening in other ways. Bruxism is one of the side effects of some medications like anti-depressants, so speaking to your doctor about switching to another type is one possibility. Stress, anxiety, and unconscious tensioncan lead to clenching even during the day. Trying to be aware and noticing when one is doing this can help you stop, habitually. But dealing with stress through other means is important for one’s overall mental and physical health.
Teeth grinding can cause a lot of expensive damage down the road. This can include replacement fillings, crowns, root canals, implants, and more. So, you should see your dentist if you suspect you are grinding your teeth at night and pay your medical doctor a visit if stress or medication is a suspected cause.
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