at Woodbury Dental and Laser Clinic in Kent
Teeth grinding can be an outward sign that a person is feeling frustrated, anxious, or angry. However, frequent or habitual teeth grinding or teeth clenching habits (or teeth grinding done unconsciously) can have serious effects on dental health – and may indicate a much bigger problem other than just the plain venting out of emotions.
A person who is suffering from bruxism or teeth grinding may clench or grind teeth unconsciously during the daytime; sleep bruxism occurs when a person grinds or clenches the teeth during the nighttime, while sleeping. Mild forms of teeth grinding or bruxism may not necessitate treatments; however, excessive or chronic forms of teeth grinding will need to be fully evaluated by the dentist at Woodbury Dental and Laser Clinic to be able to formulate a treatment plan that will prevent adverse effects.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Stress – Many people unconsciously clench or grind their teeth together when they are feeling a lot of stress – especially in cases when showing stress is not acceptable, or is not allowed. A person may just vent his or her emotions by teeth grinding, rather than let the emotions be visible to others around him or her.
Frustration and Suppressed Anger – Feelings of frustration or suppressed anger can also lead a person to unconsciously clench or grind teeth together. Rather than showing real anger to other people, some people resort to teeth grinding or teeth clenching to vent out some of the negative emotions; teeth grinding can also be seen as an effective way of concealing emotions from other people.
Medications or Drugs – Medications and drugs that are used in the treatment of depression are sometimes known to trigger teeth grinding episodes in patients.
Improper Teeth Alignment – When teeth are not properly aligned, there is a tendency for the crooked teeth to forcefully grind against the other teeth. An improper bite can also force the person to adjust by grinding teeth together, to come up with a more comfortable biting position.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
- Teeth grinding that can be heard by other people, especially when the person suffering from bruxism is asleep.
- Teeth that are chipped, fractured, or worn tooth enamel
- Pain and a feeling of tightness in the jaw area
- Teeth that become sensitive due to excessive grinding, and worn tooth enamel
- Damaged or broken dental fillings
- Sensitive gums that are caused by the excessive pressure of teeth grinding against each other
- Chronic pain in the face, especially in the lower cheeks and jaw area
- Indentations on the tongue
- Pain in the area of the ears, due to excessive pressure on the jaw joint area when the teeth are ground or clenched
- Sores on the inner cheek lining, which may be damaged by the teeth grinding
- Headache upon waking up in the morning
- Insomnia caused by sleeping restlessly throughout the night, due to teeth grinding
Teeth Grinding Treatment
Proper stress management plays a key role in the treatment of teeth grinding. The dentist at Woodbury Dental and Laser Clinic may advise the patient to seek help for proper stress management, so that teeth grinding can be reduced or even eliminated in times of stress. Relaxation exercises are often part of a stress management plan, and can also be combined with counseling sessions to get to the root cause of the factors that cause stress; counseling can also help the patient to deal with the stress in a more productive way.
A dental device, such as a splint or a mouthguard, can be given to the patient to prevent teeth from grinding against one another. Mouthguards and splints from the dentist at Woodbury Dental and Laser are custom-made to perfectly fit into the mouth of the teeth grinding sufferer, so that he or she can wear these devices comfortably while dealing with the teeth grinding problem.
Pain in the jaw joint area caused by exerting teeth grinding force can be relived with a cold compress, or by gentle massage. Stretching exercises can also be beneficial in the management of stiff jaw joints. Pain relievers are available over the counter, or can be prescribed by a dentist to deal with the discomfort brought about by bruxism.
Orthodontics or teeth straightening can address problems concerning improperly aligned teeth. The way the teeth come together will be greatly improved when teeth are moved to their proper alignment – and reduces the incidence of teeth grinding.
Proper diagnosis of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems is important in determining the cause of teeth grinding – and also in the formulation of an appropriate treatment plan. TMJ problems may be caused by various factors, so it is best to determine this particular problem as soon as possible to get the necessary and long lasting treatment for the teeth grinding problem.