Although teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is all too often caused by an abnormal bite, misalignment of your teeth, or missing or crooked teeth.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, one can easily be unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull headache or sore jaw when you wake up can be a telltale symptom of teeth grinding. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or wearing down of your teeth. The chronic grinding can even wear teeth down to stumps over a period of years. Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ (short for temporomandibular joint disorders) and can result in considerable discomfort.
Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion) is the primary cause of nighttime teeth grinding. The teeth don’t fit together. During the day, the brain overrides the teeth that don’t fit. But at night, the brain keeps trying to make the teeth fit together properly, grinding the teeth together in the process.
This can be caused by something as simple as a filling or crown that is not fitted perfectly to one’s bite, throwing your entire bite out of alignment. Or it can be something a bit more extensive regarding how the two arches of your upper and lower teeth fit together.
The good news is that there are ways to handle this.
Use A Nighttime Teeth Guard
There are acrylic guards that you can wear when you sleep that will protect your teeth. You can come in and we can make one that fits your teeth. But this is just a temporary fix.
Come in for a Bite Evaluation
If teeth are only slightly misaligned, we can often fix that in one office visit. Casts are made of the teeth and areas of malocclusion are identified. Sometimes, just grinding down a small part of a filling, a crown or a molar is enough to fix the problem.
Braces or Invisalign
For more severe cases of misalignment, more adjustment is needed. Braces are another way to change and correctly align your bite. Over time, braces change the teeth in relation to each other and are a permanent means of correcting the proper alignment of your teeth.
We can handle Teeth Grinding!
Teeth grinding is a relatively new area of study. The good news is that we can repair any damage done and most likely handle the problem for good by addressing the root cause of teeth grinding, through proper alignment of your teeth and bite.