When you’re anxious or upset, you may find yourself grinding and clenching your teeth due to the stress. As a temporary reaction, occasional teeth-grinding isn’t typically a threat to your oral health. However, some patients grind their teeth consistently, often without noticing, and the continued pressure can lead to a host of progressively worse dental concerns. Known as bruxism, consistent teeth-grinding often occurs at night, and patients who experience it may not realize there’s a problem until their teeth become sensitive or noticeably worn down. Unlike tooth decay and gum disease, bruxism cannot always be prevented, though appropriate treatment can help relieve it and prevent extensive damage to your teeth.
Causes of Bruxism
Bruxism is often the result of an imbalance in your bite, or a symptom of excessive stress. For instance, if your teeth are crooked, then your jaw may have to shift constantly to accommodate the discrepancy when you bite and chew. Over time, your jaw joints and muscles can become fatigued, or they can spasm and force your teeth to grind against each other. If you experience unusually high levels of stress, then it can manifest as spontaneous tension in your jaw muscles, which can also cause them to tighten and force your teeth to clench together. While treating bruxism is often simple, it requires that your dentist accurately diagnose its cause so you can prevent symptoms from recurring.
Treating bruxism depends on the nature and severity of the condition, though most patients can treat their conditions with comfortable, custom-designed mouthguards. By wearing the guard at night while you sleep, you can prevent your teeth from unconsciously grinding together and wearing down. If your teeth have already suffered damage from constant grinding, then your treatment may include one or more restorative treatments to repair the damage and restore your bite’s full function.