Many people will clench their teeth from time to time, but teeth grinding, known medically as bruxism, can develop into a major problem if left untreated. Teeth grinding that occurs on a fairly regular basis can damage teeth and lead to a variety of other problems, as well.
Why People Grind Their Teeth
People that tend to grind their teeth do so because of stress or anxiety and, most often, do so at night when they are sleeping. It may be difficult for people to know if they grind their teeth since it usually occurs at night. Many will learn they grind their teeth from a loved one who hears them at night. Regardless, if the action continues regularly, there can be some serious consequences.
Side Effects Of Teeth Grinding
If not corrected, regular teeth grinding can leave a trail of damage to the mouth. Excessive teeth grinding will wear down the enamel of the teeth. The teeth can be ground down to the dentin, or the body of the teeth. With less enamel, teeth will become very sensitive to both heat and cold.
Teeth grinding can lead to the loosening, fracturing, or even loss of teeth. If any teeth have fillings, constant grinding can remove those and cause cracking or fracturing of teeth. The constant back-and-forth motion of the teeth when being ground will lead to the loosening of teeth. The gums can also recede because of the constant pressure on the gum line.
While the effects on the teeth from grinding are many, there are also other related side effects. One of the more common side effects is headache. Another is a sore jaw. The constant grinding of the teeth involves the use of the muscles of the jaw. The jaw can become sore because the muscles are overused as a result of the grinding.
One of the more serious problems that can arise as a result of teeth grinding is hearing loss. Many times the hearing loss is just temporary, but can continue if left untreated.
Treating Teeth Grinding
There are several ways to treat teeth grinding. A mouth guard can be fitted to prevent a person from grinding the teeth while sleeping. Since teeth grinding is most often stress-related, if the stress is controlled, the teeth grinding can be controlled as well. Starting an exercise program can help to relieve stress. Attending counseling is another option.
People who grind their teeth can also help themselves by manipulating their diets. Avoiding foods and drinks that contain caffeine can help make a difference. Avoiding alcohol can also help as alcohol consumption is known to intensify teeth grinding.