Preventing And Treating Tooth Grinding (Bruxism)

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Most people grind and clench their teeth from time to time. While occasional tooth grinding, or bruxism, is not usually harmful, regular tooth grinding is associated with oral health complications such as damaged teeth or even tooth loss.

The biggest problem that arises from bruxism is its wear and tear on the teeth.

Complications Associated with Bruxism

Continuous tooth grinding can cause the tooth enamel to wear away, which may result in sensitivity and decay. Prolonged grinding also damages the joints and muscles of the jaw. If left untreated, grinding may result in osteoarthritis or bone loss.

In addition to this, prolonged bruxism is associated with hearing loss, TMJ and can even change the shape and appearance of your face. Chronic grinding will wear down the teeth and may require the use of crowns, bridges, dental implants, partial or even full dentures. Your family dentist can aid you in addressing the damage that results from chronic tooth grinding.

Treatment for Bruxism

If you find that you grind or clench your teeth, your family dentist can fit you with a mouth guard or a mouth splint to prevent further damage. This will aid in evening out the pressure in your mouth to prevent further damage to the joints and muscles in the jaw, as well as create a barrier between the upper and lower teeth. Generally only worn at night, mouth guards or splints are a means of controlling bruxism, not a cure for the condition.

Teeth grinding may be a result of stress or anxiety. Implementing stress management techniques can be helpful and if needed, a professional can help deal with the stressors that are at the root of the problem.

Bruxism in Children

While most patients who grind their teeth are between the ages of 20 and 40, it is not uncommon for children to grind their teeth. Your child’s dentist will look for indicators of bruxism, such as worn teeth or an uneven bite, during regular check-ups.

Addressing bruxism in children is an important aspect of early dental care. As the American Dental Association states, “Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.”[1]

While the cause of bruxism in a toddler is unclear, many family dentists believe that stress or pain associated with earaches and teething may be to blame. A toddler may also grind their teeth as a result of breathing problems. Children who are getting their permanent teeth may also go through a period of teeth grinding.  In such cases, your dentist can direct you toward the best course of action.

[1]http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists

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