Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is when you clench or grind your teeth. This usually happens during sleep, and your partner may hear you grinding your teeth at night. However, some people clench or grind their teeth while awake.

Teeth are not meant to be forced together under intense pressure, as this habit can can ruin your smile if not treated. Most people don’t realize they grind their teeth until their partner tells them or they visit their dentist in Asheville, which makes it essential to continue with your regular checkups.

How exactly does teeth grinding hurt your smile? Here’s why you should never let bruxism go untreated!

What Causes Bruxism?

First, why does bruxism happen? Not everyone will grind their teeth, but people most likely to experience bruxism include those who:

  • Experience chronic stress or anxiety
  • Have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
  • Use alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Drink caffeine

Sometimes bruxism will have no discernible cause. Generally, people who don’t have any other issues with their jaw can benefit from stress management techniques to minimize or even completely stop their bruxism.

Symptoms of teeth grinding could include sensitive teeth, tense muscles in your jaw, headaches, and TMJ symptoms. But the consequences of teeth grinding can be more severe than you think!

Wears Down Teeth

Over time, bruxism can give teeth an unnaturally even appearance, such as teeth that are flatter and squarer. Teeth may appear shorter or not fit together as they once did when biting down. This premature wearing of the teeth can’t be undone. You’ll need dental veneers, crowns, or another restorative dentistry option to repair them.

When grinding your teeth wears them down in this way, your teeth can become sensitive as more and more of the tooth becomes exposed over time. You may experience mild to extreme sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or spicy foods. The discomfort may linger even after you are no longer eating or drinking.

Causes Gum Inflammation

Did you know that teeth grinding can also affect your gum tissue? When you grind or clench your teeth, the tension can irritate your gum tissue and cause inflammation. Your gums may appear red or swollen, or may even begin to recede—or pull back—from your teeth.

Bruxism’s effect on gum tissue may mimic symptoms of gum disease and can eventually cause the teeth to feel loose in their sockets. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of gum disease such as gum recession or bleeding, it’s time to see your dentist in Asheville as soon as possible!

Bruxism Can Fracture Teeth

There are different types of fractures that bruxism can cause depending on how long you’ve been grinding your teeth and how strong or weak your teeth are.

Some people have what are called craze lines, which are considered superficial fractures in the teeth that can be indicative of bruxism. Generally, these lines are only noticeable when looking at the teeth up close and don’t affect the health or function of the teeth.

However, broken or cracked teeth need professional attention and can lead to the need for a root canal or even a tooth extraction. With the immense force seen in teeth grinding, your teeth can fracture. These could include a vertical fracture or a fractured cusp (the points on your tooth). Without realizing your tooth has cracked, you could need more extensive treatment by the time you have symptoms.

Teeth Grinding Can Cause Tooth Loss

If left untreated, bruxism can eventually cause the teeth to become loose to the point that they can’t be saved. Identifying bruxism before it gets to this point is instrumental to saving your teeth, which is why keeping your regular dental visits is important. If you suspect you clench or grind your teeth, whether while awake or asleep, discussing your symptoms with your dentist in Asheville can help you get the care you need to stop teeth grinding!

How Can Bruxism Be Treated?

There are different ways to treat bruxism depending on what’s causing it. With the help of your professional Asheville dentist, you can come up with a plan to address your bruxism. Treatment options can include:

  • A custom mouthguard. Normally, while you’re addressing the cause of your bruxism, your dentist will recommend a custom mouthguard. You’ll wear this at night to prevent any further damage from teeth grinding while you work on addressing the root cause.
  • Stress management. For those whose bruxism is suspected to be caused by stress, stress management may help. These techniques could include meditation, exercise, breathing techniques, and getting more sleep.
  • Addressing any underlying causes. If you have a substance abuse disorder that could be contributing to your bruxism, your dentist can recommend ways to get the help you need.
  • Changing your diet. A diet high in caffeine and sugar may make bruxism worse. Your dentist may recommend eliminating sugar and caffeine in the hours before you go to bed.
  • Treating your TMJ. Bruxism can make TMJ symptoms worse, but TMJ disorders may also influence the onset of bruxism. By addressing your TMJ disorder, you may be able to help curb teeth grinding.

For some people with teeth grinding, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to stopping the habit and keeping your smile healthy. This is what makes having a mouthguard so important, as it can effectively stop damage while you work with your Asheville dentist to get the habit under control.

Do You Grind Your Teeth?

If you suspect you grind your teeth, don’t wait to seek treatment. Teeth grinding is incredibly damaging to your smile and can cause irreversible harm. Fortunately, with the right treatment, you can protect your smile and stop harmful clenching and grinding. Do you grind your teeth? Ask your dentist in Asheville if your symptoms could be the result of bruxism and what you can do about it. Call us at Saunders DDS today to make an appointment at (828) 277-6060 or request an appointment through our contact form!