The Costly Grind of Teeth

Do you wake up with a sore jaw or headache? Have you noticed that your teeth have changed shape? Do you feel that there’s more space between your teeth?  Do you feel that your teeth are loose? Do you have TMD or TMJ? Do you suffer from unexplained hearing loss? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism.

Teeth grinding can be particularly problematic because the condition may seem to be out of our control. Occurring throughout the night, teeth grinding may seem to be a silent killer, but not to the partners we sleep with at night. In truth, over time teeth grinding catches up with all of us that grind.

Teeth grinding can be costly from several perspectives. Because we are likely to experience ongoing pain from teeth grinding, bruxism is associated with chronic pain. This pain can affect our relationships, our social life and professional life. In addition, teeth grinding places extensive friction and pressure on the teeth. In turn, teeth grinders are more likely to experience tooth fractures. In fact, teeth grinding can wear teeth down to stumps or result in tooth loss. Bruxism also destroys tooth restorations and cosmetic dentistry procedures such as dental veneers. Teeth grinders who do not receive treatment are at a higher risk for dental bridges, dental crowns, root canals, dental implants and dentures.   When we consider all costs associated with teeth grinding, a preventative treatment plan becomes important.

Teeth Grinding Prevention

Mouth Guard: Dentists can custom design a mouth guard that fits to the size of your teeth as well as contours of your teeth and tooth restorations. Mouth guards protect your teeth, cosmetic dentistry and tooth restorations from damage due to grinding.

Oral Hygiene: Improper oral hygiene is a contributor to teeth grinding. Daily brushing and flossing is important for teeth grinders. Obtaining dental fillings, root canals, dental crowns and the like, when necessary, reduces the risk of teeth grinding. Proper alignment of your bite, also known as occlusion, helps to prevent teeth grinding.

Massage: Certain massage therapists can focus on areas of the jaw to relax the jaw muscles. Regular massage has been known to alleviate the pain associated with teeth grinding.

Stress Relief: Stress is a factor in teeth grinding. Cardiovascular exercise and weight training help to reduce stress. Holistic therapies such as Tia Chi and Meditation are known to reduce stress.

Diet: Refrain from caffeine foods and drinks that contribute to teeth grinding. This includes soda, coffee and chocolate. Stay away from alcohol that makes grinding worse. Don’t chew gum as the chewing motion can be a trigger for grinding.

And don’t forget that general dentistry care is critical for tooth grinders.

If you are suffering from teeth grinding, contact Dr. Mark Sweeney, an Austin Texas dentist, at(512)380-1300.