Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is often viewed as a harmless, though annoying, habit. Some people develop bruxism from an inability to deal with stress or anxiety. It is thought that around one in ten adults experiences problems stemming from bruxism, making it one of the most common para-functional habits related to the mouth. It's even more common in children — but unless it causes severe problems, like pain or sleep difficulties, kids are rarely treated for it. Teeth grinding can literally transform your bite relationship and worse, severely damage your teeth and jaws over long periods of time.
It can cause abrasion to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. This abnormal wear and tear will prematurely age and loosen your teeth, and open them to problems such as hypersensitivity (from the small cracks that form, exposing your dentin). Bruxism can also lead to chronic jaw and facial pain, as well as headaches.
If no one has told you that you grind your teeth, here are a few clues that you may suffer from bruxism:
- Your jaw is often sore, or you hear popping sounds when you open and close your mouth.
- Your teeth look abnormally short or worn down.
- You notice small dents in your tongue.
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Bruxism is somewhat treatable. Some methods are meditation, mindfulness, biofeedback, and behavior modification, such as tongue exercises and learning how to properly align your tongue, teeth and lips. A common dentist treatment is "occlusal guard" or night guard. This is a comfortable, custom-made device that is most often worn over the top teeth. Made of laboratory-processed acrylic resin, a high impact plastic, the device keeps the teeth from actually coming into contact, and can prevent damage to teeth, fillings, crowns and other dental work. This treatment is often considered the best option since it is usually less costly than crowns or orthodontics, and is conservative: no teeth need to be altered, and the treatment is fully reversible.
In many situations, teeth grinding is accepted as a normal behavior in response to stress. But when it begins to have negative consequences for your health, it's time to seek treatment. Although the exact nature of bruxism isn't fully understood, there are a number of ways to reduce its potentially harmful effects — starting with awareness of the problem, and possibly leading to positive lifestyle changes. If teeth grinding is causing problems for you, don't just "grit your teeth and bear it;" ask Dr. Sirivolu - Wellington, Royal Palm Beach on how you can start controlling it.