Could You Be Grinding Your Teeth Away?
You’ve probably heard the phrase “keeping your nose to the grindstone” as a way of saying someone needs to focus or work harder.
Grindstones have been used to sharpen tools for centuries. The stone is used to grind away the rough edges. This can be valuable if you need an axe to cut down a tree or to chop firewood.
Grinding your teeth together is a different story. This can lead to oral health problems and TMJ disorders.
Unfortunately, we see the signs of tooth grinding when many of our patients visit us at Hubbard & Leath Dental. On the other hand, the upside is that our dentists can help them with treatments at our office in Rochester Hills, MI.
The Problem You Don’t Realize You Have
The odds are you may not realize that you grind your teeth together.
One reason for this is that millions of people grind their teeth in their sleep. It’s hard to prevent something if you aren’t conscious when it is happening.
But even when you are awake, you may be clenching or grinding your teeth unknowingly. The reasons for this may be psychological or physical.
Stress is one of the most common causes of teeth grinding. You could be going through a stressful time in a personal relationship. You may be stressed about a problem involving your children. You might be stressed about your job as well.
No matter the reason, learning to manage that stress could reduce your likelihood of grinding your teeth.
Teeth grinding, which is also known as bruxism, is one of the primary causes of TMJ disorders in the U.S.
Whenever you grind or clench your teeth together, you are putting pressure on your TMJ (your temporomandibular joint) along with the muscles and tendons connected to this joint. The TMJ is located where your jaw connects to your skull. (You may be able to feel it move if you put a finger near each of your ears.)
When you open your mouth to eat, your TMJ is what allows that to happen. When you open your mouth to speak, again, your TMJ is the pivot point. And when you sing or yawn, your TMJ makes that possible.
The added pressure from teeth grinding can limit your ability to open and close your mouth. It can cause headaches, earaches, and pains in your face, neck, and shoulders. This may explain why you wake up with frequent headaches or pain in your jaw.
Grinding Down Your Health
We don’t want to overlook the oral health risks that can develop as a result of your teeth grinding.
Just as the grindstone removes the rough edges to make an axe or knife sharper, teeth grinding can wear down your teeth. When this happens, you will first grind away the enamel on the outer layers of your teeth.
When this happens, your teeth can become weakened, which can make it harder to chew certain foods.
Enamel also serves a protective purpose. One of its functions is protecting your teeth from bacteria and plaque. To be fair, bacteria may eat through your enamel anyway if you have poor oral hygiene habits, but if you remove the enamel, it makes it that much easier for bacteria to cause tooth decay.
If you previously had a restorative dental procedure like dental crowns or dental bridges, then bruxism can affect your them, too. Your crown or bridges made come loose, or they too can become weak or crack under the pressure.
Keeping Your Teeth Intact
If you suspect that you may be a teeth grinder, we welcome you to visit Hubbard & Leath Dental for help.
We have helped patients with similar problems by creating mouthguards for them. These mouthguards are called occlusal splints.
You may wear one of these mouthguards at night to prevent your top and bottom teeth from touching one another. The mouthguard also may be used to change the position of your jaw just enough to provide relief from your morning headaches and jaw pain.
While this is the dental solution, you also can help yourself in other ways. You may be able to learn relaxation techniques, exercise, and even get massages to reduce the effects of the stress in your life.
Save Your Teeth
A mouthguard is not always enough to prevent your teeth grinding, but you can take comforting in knowing that we will work with you to find a treatment if that is the case. Whether you live Rochester Hills, Troy, or somewhere in between, our dentists want nothing more than for you and your teeth to stay healthy.