Teeth grinding is a medical condition called “bruxism.” Many people periodically clench their jaw and press their teeth together. The upper and lower teeth grind against each other.
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
Generally the cause of teeth grinding is some form of anxiety. It’s a nervous habit that people develop when they are under significant stress. Perhaps they are angry about something, nervous about something, etc. It’s not something people choose to do consciously. In fact, it often happens when people are asleep.
Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?
If you occasionally clench your jaw or grind your teeth, it’s unlikely to do any damage. The last thing you need to do in that case is worry about it, since anxiety over it may well cause you to do it more, and then it might become a problem.
But more excessive teeth grinding can certainly be harmful. People who grind their teeth regularly may get a sore and painful jaw, may suffer from headaches regularly, and may have their sleep disrupted, which can lead to many other health problems, some quite serious. Plus, teeth grinding can be especially damaging to the teeth themselves. Chronic teeth grinding causes wear and tear to teeth that may result in needing bridges, crowns, or implants. In extreme cases, teeth grinding can wear a person’s teeth down to little more than stumps.
What Can Be Done to Stop Teeth Grinding?
The best way to deal with excessive teeth grinding is to address the cause, which means reducing the stress and anxiety in your life. For that you can speak to not only your dentist, but your primary care physician or a mental health professional. It may be that changes in your diet (less caffeine perhaps), exercising and getting fit, counseling, or medication would help with your anxiety. Some people have found that massaging their jaw and neck with a warm wash cloth before going to bed relaxes their jaw muscles and causes them to grind their teeth less in their sleep. A doctor who specializes in sleep may be able to suggest changes in your sleep pattern that could help. Or it may even be that you need to make significant changes in your life choices as far as your relationships, your job, your living arrangement, etc. in order to reduce stress.
But if the teeth grinding persists despite your best efforts to deal with the cause, your dentists in Bay Shore, NY may be able to help. There are mouth guards you can wear to keep your teeth from grinding together when you sleep. Your dentist can have one custom designed to fit your mouth. Please call our office at (631) 665-8484 to schedule your consultation today.