If you are always clenching and/or grinding your teeth (especially while you sleep at night) and have joint and jaw pain, you should talk to our dentist in Plano, TX. Dr. Mark Sowell recommends wearing night guards to prevent grinding and curb the behavior. Also known as a dental splint, a teeth-grinding night guard protects your teeth while you are sleeping and unaware of jaw movements.
Clenching and grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism, and gum disease are the most serious threats to your oral health. Over time, depending on the intensity and duration of our grinding habit, our teeth can wear down and break. This is a neurologic condition, so we have no conscious control over it.
Some people lose 50% of their teeth volume by age 30, and some by age 60. However, teeth grinding problems can affect us all. Many are unaware of the condition because most people grind their teeth at night while sleeping. Dr. Sowell can easily diagnose teeth grinding through a simple visual examination and discuss any symptoms that you are experiencing with you.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Having worn down, chipped, or destroyed teeth isn’t something to take lightheartedly. The result of chronic unintentional grinding, or Bruxism, can be pain, headaches, loosened teeth, and even fractured and cracked teeth. Knowing how to identify the signs associated with bruxism and how to fix the damage it can cause is essential to keeping your teeth healthy.
There are many symptoms of teeth grinding, and some people may not have symptoms at all. Some of the most common symptoms include the following:
- Worn teeth.
- Broken or chipped teeth.
- Persistent sensitive teeth.
- Soreness in the jaw joint.
- An aching pain in the head or neck.
- Extreme sensitivity to cold food and beverages, such as ice cream and iced drinks.
- Pain when chewing on one side of your face or jaw.
- Pain or tightness in the jaw joints or jaw muscles.
- Chronic headaches.
- Earache and/or facial pain.
- Damaged tissue on the inside of your cheek.
As with any dental condition, seeing your dentist as soon as you experience the signs and symptoms helps give you the best chance of both effectively treating the problem and avoiding further damage. If you do not address teeth grinding issues in time, it may lead to additional dental problems. Problems such as uneven wear of tooth surfaces, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss.
Treating Teeth Grinding
If you do not take steps to stop grinding your teeth, you may cause damage to the structure of your teeth and jaw. This includes chipping your front teeth, cracking your back teeth, wearing away the enamel on biting surfaces, and more. That’s where night guards and splints for bruxism come in.
A custom-designed thermoplastic dental guard for grinding can protect and prevent your teeth from further damage. They are small, comfortable, and typically worn at night. Some patients must also wear their custom-made splints when they are concentrating on work or under stress during the daytime.
Using biofeedback, we advise our patients to become conscious and more aware of their teeth during the day. Our goal is to help you stop the daytime habits that can lead to serious damage to your teeth and gums. Sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea can cause destructive grinding and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Furthermore, some anti-depressant drugs can cause clenching and grinding. Also, the mouth’s pH caused by the foods you eat can affect the rate of wear on your teeth. Dr. Sowell evaluates all of these conditions and more to help you get to the root cause of your teeth grinding issue.
How to Stop Teeth Grinding At Home
Bruxism, can be difficult to stop, but some methods may help. The following are the most common ways we recommend for alleviating the symptoms of bruxism.
- Reduce stress: Identifying and managing sources of stress in your life can help reduce or prevent teeth grinding.
- Seek counseling: A counselor or therapist can help you manage stress, anxiety, and other issues that may be causing bruxism.
- Avoid triggers: Be aware of what triggers your teeth grinding so you can avoid it. Common triggers include alcohol, caffeine, and certain medications.
- Try relaxation techniques: Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can help you relax and reduce stress.
- Wear a night guard: Wearing a custom mouthguard at night can help protect your teeth from grinding and reduce the symptoms of bruxism.
We can Repair Your Damaged Teeth due to Clenching & Grinding
Your dentist is the best person to plan a teeth repair treatment that suits you and your budget. Dr. Sowell can repair the damage that occurs to your teeth from grinding using a porcelain veneer makeover, dental crowns, or other tooth reconstruction treatment. Although, this does not solve the underlying condition. You will still need to wear your mouthguard to protect your new beautiful teeth and prolong their life expectancy.
If you have brittle and fractured teeth, our dentist may have to fill them with fillings. This type of treatment protects your tooth from further damage and adds strength to it. Dr. Sowell may decide to build up the damaged tooth by applying a porcelain crown.
If you have a lot of missing enamel due to bruxism, we may suggest bonding or veneers. Bonding refers to a composite resin that we apply and shape to the tooth to match the surrounding teeth. Veneers, on the other hand, are thin pieces of ceramic or porcelain that our dentist permanently attaches to the front of your teeth.
In more serious cases, we might find it necessary to undergo an endodontic treatment like a root canal. The process involves drilling down into the natural tooth root, beyond the enamel and dentin, and removing the diseased tissue inside. A crown may be necessary after the root canal to protect the tooth. No matter the treatment we recommend, it’s important to take action to repair the damage as soon as possible.
Don’t forget to wear a night guard for bruxism to protect your teeth from any further damage. After repairing your teeth, we can provide you with custom-designed oral appliances. An oral appliance will match the movement of your lower jaw. It will reduce the wear and tear on your muscles and jaw joints from clenching and grinding, and protect your teeth from further damage. Taking care of your teeth is one of the best ways to maintain optimal oral health.