Tooth grinding or bruxism is becoming more common in modern society.
This is due to stress and the increasing demands placed upon ourselves.
Most of us grind our teeth to a certain degree, however, for some of us this can cause problems. The problems can be located:
In the jaw joints – The jaw will begin to click or pop on opening or closing. In extreme circumstances it can begin to lock.In the facial muscles. This can cause headaches and pain around the jaw joints which can be particularly noticeable on wakening. Facial muscle pain has even been known to mimic toothache!
In the teeth – The teeth begin to wear. As the front teeth become worn and get smaller they loose their protective characteristics. This can result in the back teeth touching more and due to this the back teeth can start fracturing and breaking.
It is very common for heavily restored back teeth to break but, grinding can even cause healthy, unrestored teeth to break. This usually happens on the last teeth in the bottom jaw and sometimes the tooth needs to be extracted.
In the gums – The teeth can start becoming loose in the absence of gum disease. The teeth can start flaring out and spaces occurring between the teeth.
What treatment options are there for grinding?
Unfortunately we are unable to get you to stop grinding. However, if this is stress related then we can offer you a referral or a recommendation to speak to someone about this.
While we cannot get you to stop grinding we can protect your teeth and your muscles.
Depending on your symptoms we can design an occlusal splint that will help protect your teeth from breaking and also help to relax your muscles. This can help with managing headaches and muscle pain.
Sometimes, we may need to refer you to a specialist TMJ physiotherapist who will give you exercises and help to relax and manipulate your joints and muscles. Using both of these treatment options together can be extremely effective.
We may need to restore your teeth to full function and to reintroduce the protective characteristics of your teeth that you have lost through grinding. This is a very comprehensive treatment option but it will restore full function and aesthetics.
What if I don’t do anything about my grinding, what will happen?
Quite a lot of people are unaware that they are grinding as it is not painful. They do not know they are doing it until something breaks or they are unhappy with how their teeth look.
If left untreated, your teeth can wear down, once you’ve worn past the enamel the rate of wear will increase as dentine is 7 times softer than enamel, it also picks up staining easier. This will cause your teeth to age.
They will get smaller, they can become darker or more yellow. Eventually teeth can start to fracture or break. The longer the grinding is left and the more the teeth wear down then generally more treatment is required to get back to full function and aesthetics.
If compressive treatment is not an option then we can still provide you with a splint to help protect your teeth from further wear.