woman at dentist grinding teeth

What You Should Know About Grinding Your Teeth

DF7 General Dentistry

Do you grind your teeth? If so, you may not even be aware that you’re doing it. If you are aware of the habit, it’s probably because your dentist has noticed the effects, or your spouse or a close loved one has brought it to your attention. Here’s what you should know about teeth grinding.

The Dental Term for Teeth Grinding is Bruxism

Bruxism refers to the act of grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth. It can be done as a subconscious habit, as a reaction to stress or anxiety, or while dreaming.

    • Awake Bruxism is when you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth while you’re awake.
    • Sleep Bruxism is when you grind your teeth at night while you’re asleep.

Grinding your Teeth at Night is Related to Other Sleep Disorders

People who grind their teeth while sleeping are more likely to have other sleep disorders such as snoring and/or sleep apnea. Snoring is a warning sign of sleep apnea, meaning you actually stop breathing at various points while sleeping, which can lead to poor quality sleep.

Signs of Teeth Grinding Behavior

If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be grinding your teeth:

    • Teeth that are worn down through the enamel

    • Flat, broken, or chipped teeth

    • Loose teeth

    • Jaw pain

    • Tooth sensitivity

    • Headaches

    • Sores on your tongue and insides of your cheeks from unconscious biting

    • Frequent waking at night and feeling tired during the day

    • Teeth hitting together so hard the sound wakes your partner at night

Grinding Teeth can do Severe Damage Over Time

Early symptoms of damage from teeth grinding include worn down enamel and slight wearing down of teeth. Stopping or controlling teeth grinding at this stage is beneficial, because it prevents more severe damage to teeth that can result in the need for more extensive dental work to repair the damage.

Over time, teeth grinding can cause teeth to become loose, weakened, chipped, or broken. The severity of the damage can increase over time as teeth become weaker and more susceptible to decay. Teeth can eventually become loose enough to fall out. Severe long term teeth grinding can wear teeth down to just stumps.

Grinding teeth can also do long term damage to your jaw causing pain, restricted movement, and a clicking sound as your jaw opens and closes.

How can a Dentist Correct Teeth Grinding and its Effects?

It can be almost impossible to stop grinding your teeth, mostly because you’re not aware you’re doing it. It’s an unconscious habit while you’re awake and while you’re sleeping. Because the habit is hard to break, the best thing to do is to protect your teeth from the damage that grinding inflicts.

The most common solution for sleep bruxism is a mouth guard to wear at night that provides a barrier that absorbs the impact of the grinding and protects the teeth.

Daytime bruxism is harder to control, however, making efforts to reduce stress can help. Exercising, talk therapy, anxiety medication, and even muscle relaxers can help you to release some of the tension in your jaw.

Tips to Help you Stop Grinding your Teeth

    • Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine can be an anxiety inducer.

    • Drink less alcohol. Teeth grinding seems to increase after alcohol consumption.

    • No absent minded chewing on pencils or other objects.

    • Do not chew gum. The constant chewing motion can encourage you to grind your teeth more.

    • If you notice yourself grinding your teeth, put your tongue slightly between your teeth to prevent biting down and relax your jaw.

Children and Adults Grind their Teeth

Bruxism can start at an early age and become a lifelong habit that is extremely difficult to break the older you get. Stopping the habit in childhood can prevent a lifetime of damage to the teeth and jaw. Children often outgrow the habit, but if not, speak with your child’s dentist about it.

Smile Shack Offers Teeth Grinding Solutions

If you or your child have the signs and symptom of teeth grinding, visit Smile Shack in Port Jefferson Station, NY. Dr. Victoria E. Shack can help with prevention and restoration of tooth damage due to grinding. Call (631) 928-7500 today to make an appointment or request an appointment and someone will contact you.