Do you have a tooth grinder in your family? Or worse yet, are you the guilty one? The good news is you are not alone. According to recent statistics, as many as 40 million adults and children in the US suffer from this condition known as bruxism. There are no exact numbers as children usually grow out of it, and adults may do it more or less depending on factors such as stress.
WHAT CAUSES BRUXISM?
There are a lot of theories as to why people grind their teeth, but there doesn’t seem to be an exact reason for it. It could be because of misalignment of the teeth or stress which causes you to clench your jaw at night and even during the day, or it could be related to sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder.
Whatever the reason is, the constant grinding will eventually wear your teeth down, and you will probably end up needing veneers, crowns, or implants to restore their appearance and functionality.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF BRUXISM?
If no one has told you that you grind your teeth at night, there are some common signs and symptoms, with the most obvious one being worn down teeth. Over time, the enamel wears down, eventually exposing the sensitive part of your teeth.
If left untreated, bacteria can get into the damaged tooth, leading to cavities, decay, and other serious dental issues.
- Other signs to look out for include:
- Overly sensitive teeth
- Fractured teeth
- Disrupted sleep
- Tapping noise while you are asleep
- Stiff jaw muscles
HOW DO YOU PREVENT BRUXISM?
The bad news for most adults is once you’re a bruxer, chances are you’ll always be a bruxer. But there are ways you can prevent tooth grinding and minimize the damage to your teeth and jaw.
SPEAK TO YOUR DENTIST ABOUT A NIGHT GUARD.
One of the quickest ways to stop any further damage to your teeth is by using a night guard that your dentist will custom-make for you. This removable device is worn at night, and while it won’t stop the habit, it will prevent further damage to your teeth. Botox is worth a shot.
Who would have thought you would be talking to your dentist about Botox? A small dose of it injected into your jaw will relax the muscles and reduce grinding. Of course, the effects of Botox do wear off, so this is not a permanent treatment, and you will need to keep having the injections.
AVOID UNNECESSARY CHEWING DURING THE DAY.
Try not to chew pens, pencils, and anything else that isn’t food. If you are prone to grinding your teeth, try to avoid chewing gum too. All these habits encourage clenching, which could lead to you grinding your teeth at night.
CUT DOWN ON TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL.
Tobacco, alcohol, and some recreational drugs can cause extreme bruxism. It is a good idea to cut back on these products—or even better, kick all three habits completely.
HOW TO RESTORE YOUR TEETH
There are a few ways you can restore your teeth to their former glory, but it is recommended that you first get the grinding under control before you have any cosmetic dentistry procedures done.
Crowns, veneers, and bonding are the most effective at restoring the beauty and functionality of your chompers. And when you are ready, your dentist will talk you through each of the options to see which one better suits your needs and your budget.
A crown is an excellent way to restore your teeth and prevent future damage. The protective cap will not only protect the remaining tooth, but it also restores its size, shape, and strength.
Your dentist might recommend porcelain veneers as a way of restoring your teeth. Veneers are like a facelift for your teeth. And Dr. Howell or Dr. Cornelius will match your veneers to the color of the rest of your teeth so they look like the smile you were born with.
Bonding is probably the easiest and most affordable way of repairing damaged teeth. It is also the least invasive. Your dentist uses a resin that bonds to your teeth, which is then shaped and polished to match the rest of your teeth. Dental bonding can fix various problems including gaps and discolored or stained teeth.
Whatever your reasons for teeth grinding, it is definitely not a condition that will go away on its own. Our dental experts at Bela Family Dentistry of Kershaw will assess the problem and talk you through your treatment options, answering any questions you might have. And our dedicated team of treatment coordinators will be available to assist with post-treatment care.