How to Stop Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition in which a person either consciously or unconsciously grinds their teeth together. Bruxism can happen while awake or asleep and can be very damaging to teeth.
Your teeth are meant to help you chew food rather than grind against each other. Although most people occasionally grind their teeth, chronic or extreme teeth grinding can cause permanent damage to the teeth, including aesthetic issues as well as pain and discomfort.
But how can you stop teeth grinding? There are a few treatments that may help you curb this damaging habit so you can start protecting your smile.
Is Teeth Grinding Common? (Plus the Signs You Should Look Out for)
Teeth grinding has been on the rise since the pandemic, with about 70% of dentists noticing signs of teeth clenching and grinding in their patients.
Most people do not know they are grinding their teeth until their dentists see signs of damage or the patient begins to notice symptoms such as cracked teeth or jaw pain. Seeing as teeth grinding is a common condition, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms you should look out for.
These signs and symptoms may include:
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Jaw pain or muscle fatigue around the jaw area
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Worn-down or short-looking teeth
- Damaged dental restorations
- Gum recession
Chronic or severe bruxism can impact your quality of life and may even increase your risk of developing a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Treating bruxism before the condition causes damage to your teeth and jaw can help protect your smile and improve your quality of life.
Available Treatments for Bruxism
Bruxism can be a multifaceted issue with various causes, so it’s important to work with an experienced dentist in Asheville who can help you uncover the root cause, if at all possible, for your teeth grinding.
First, Get a Custom Mouthguard
Often, before you begin to explore the cause of bruxism or ask how to stop teeth grinding, getting a custom mouthguard is essential. A custom mouthguard will protect your teeth from further damage if you are a nighttime bruxer.
Teeth that have already been subject to repeated episodes of bruxism for some time may be weakened and more prone to chips or cracks, so a mouthguard may be an important part of your treatment or management until a potential underlying cause can be identified.
Stress Management and Biofeedback
For many people, stress and anxiety are the primary cause of bruxism. Therefore, stress management techniques and even biofeedback—a treatment method that helps people understand when they grind their teeth and what triggers may play a role—may be helpful in such cases.
If you believe stress is the cause of your bruxism, reducing stress in your life where possible and seeking support may be more helpful than you think in managing your teeth grinding. Of course, a mouthguard can help protect your teeth while you are managing your stress.
Correcting Misaligned Teeth
It’s possible that you are grinding your teeth because your teeth or bite don’t align properly, which can cause a malocclusion, also called an improper bite, which can make teeth grinding more likely.
It’s even possible that an incorrectly placed dental restoration, such as a crown or implant, can affect your bite and trigger episodes of bruxism. Your Asheville dentist can tell if there is a problem with your teeth or bite that could be influencing your teeth grinding habit.
In addition to stress management, there are some lifestyle changes you may be able to make that can help reduce bruxism.
For example, people who consume a significant amount of caffeine or alcohol are more likely to grind their teeth, as are people who use tobacco and other stimulants. Reducing or eliminating these substances may help improve your teeth grinding habit and protect your smile.
You may not have to avoid these substances forever, but being mindful of your consumption during stressful periods may help you reduce the likelihood of bruxism.
Get Treatment for Sleep Apnea
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or believe you have sleep apnea, getting treatment may help curb your bruxism.
Sleep bruxism commonly occurs with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea can have many negative health effects, including daytime fatigue and an increased risk for heart attacks and stroke, so treating sleep apnea is important whether or not you grind your teeth.
Although the link between these two conditions is still being explored, experts suspect that teeth grinding may happen when muscles in the jaw are activated to try and open the airway that is blocked in obstructive sleep apnea.
The Cost of Ignoring Bruxism
It’s possible to have multiple potential causes of bruxism, so working with an experienced professional to help diagnose and treat your bruxism, as well as any root causes, will help you develop the most successful plan for treatment.
If left untreated, bruxism can lead to gum inflammation, loose teeth, and even tooth loss in severe cases. Some patients may also have worn-down teeth that cannot be restored with minimally invasive treatments such as dental bonding and may instead need to be capped or replaced.
Regular dental checkups will allow your dentist to identify signs of teeth grinding during your visits before bruxism has a chance to ruin your teeth. So if you have signs or symptoms of bruxism, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist for an appointment.
Are You Grinding Your Teeth?
If you regularly grind your teeth, you could be damaging your beautiful smile and not even know it—but don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help. Whether you have symptoms of bruxism or are concerned you may have already damaged your teeth, let us evaluate your smile. Saunders DDS can help you identify potential bruxism damage and work with you to stop or manage teeth grinding. Call us for an appointment today at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online through our contact form.