Every day we are flooded with ads about this toothpaste or that mouthwash, all of which claim to prevent enamel erosion caused by food and beverages. A more significant cause of enamel erosion, however, is bruxism. Also called teeth clenching or grinding, bruxism affects between 10% and 30% of the population.
Most people clench or grind their teeth unconsciously during the day or while sleeping. This is most often caused by stress or anxiety, but can also indicate that there is something wrong with your bite or tooth alignment. Bruxism is not uncommon for most people, stress and anxiety can happen to anyone. If it’s mild and infrequent, often treatment won’t be necessary. But if you’re consistently grinding your teeth, you should address the issue with your dentist or orthodontist as it could become a more serious issue.
Constant grinding and clenching can cause teeth to break, become loose, or shift their alignment over time. If you wear braces, or wore braces, you’ll want to address teeth grinding/clenching before it undoes the hard work done by your braces. Chronic teeth grinding is often a catalyst for other dental issues like cavities or needing tooth extractions. Severe bruxism damages your teeth, can result in tooth loss, and can cause or worsen TMD/TMJ.
Some signs and symptoms of bruxism include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
- Jaw pain or face pain
- You notice that you can’t fully open or close your mouth
If you think you may be grinding your teeth, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. They can examine your mouth and jaw for signs that you’re grinding or clenching your teeth and will be able to provide proper treatment.
Visiting your orthodontist can be a good start to treating severe bruxism, especially if you have a malocclusion (misaligned teeth). Having a properly aligned bite usually results in fewer jaw issues! Although there’s no guarantee that it will stop your bruxism, it’s still worth discussing with your orthodontist. You may be recommended a night guard to prevent you from clenching and damaging your teeth. While night guards are available over-the-counter, your dentist or orthodontist can make a night guard that is custom fit to your mouth and teeth. And don’t worry if you have braces. Your orthodontist can adjust your night guard as your teeth shift to ensure it always fits you perfectly.
Night guards protect your teeth from damage but if your bruxism persists or doesn’t show any signs of improvement, your dentist or orthodontist may advise you to see a medical doctor. They can address the underlying stress that is causing the condition to persist.
At TNT Orthodontics, our dynamite staff examines the overall dental health of each and every patient to make sure you get the proper treatment.