Normal chewing results in brief intervals of contact between teeth. Under normal circumstances, your teeth should only contact for about 5 minutes each day. Slight amounts of wear over years of use is common, and bite edges can chip a little.

Sometimes teeth develop a flattened, worn appearance, even in young patients. X-rays may reveal unusually thin layers of enamel as if sandpaper has been drawn across the chewing surfaces of the teeth. A few minutes of chewing daily simply shouldn’t erode the enamel so much.

You Don’t Even Know

Some patients develop a subconscious habit of grinding their teeth, either during the day or night. In many cases, the abrasive action occurs only during sleep, and for only a few seconds at a time. If you wake up with a sore jaw or a morning headache, chances are you’re grinding your teeth during the night. In some patients, enlarged jaw muscles develop on the sides of the face from this nighttime grinding. These muscles are, ounce for ounce, the strongest in the body, which means they can do a lot of unnecessary damage.

The unusual activity not only wears down teeth and strains the overworked muscles. The compressive forces can also damage the intricate jaw joints on one or both sides. Damage to the joints may lead to arthritic changes, chronic pain, and popping or clicking. Once these changes settle in, reversing their condition may become impossible.

Avoiding Irreversible Damage

If you’re waking up with a sore jaw or headaches, or you’ve noticed chips or flattening of your teeth, a consult with Dr. Asad Ahsan is recommended. The sooner the problem receives attention, the less damage there will be. Often a carefully calibrated night guard will eliminate the symptoms while protecting your precious enamel.

Daytime habits of clenching or grinding deserve attention too. Dr. Asad Ahsan will analyze your bite and make sure they’re moving against each other properly when you chew. Regardless of the cause, eliminating the strain on the jaw and your teeth as quickly as possible can save you money and time spent in the dental chair.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is teeth grinding (bruxism)?

Bruxism is the involuntary grinding, clenching, or gnashing of teeth, often occurring during sleep. It can also happen during waking hours and may lead to various dental issues.

What causes teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding can be caused by various factors, including stress, anxiety, an abnormal bite, misaligned teeth, or sleep disorders. Determining the underlying cause is essential for effective management.

What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?

Symptoms of teeth grinding include worn-down teeth, headaches, jaw pain, facial pain, earaches, and heightened tooth sensitivity. Individuals may also experience disrupted sleep patterns.

How is teeth grinding diagnosed?

The diagnosis of teeth grinding is often based on a dental examination, observation of dental wear patterns, and discussions about symptoms. In some cases, a sleep study may be recommended to assess nighttime bruxism.

Can teeth grinding cause dental damage?

Yes, prolonged teeth grinding can lead to dental damage, including worn enamel, chipped or cracked teeth, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues. It may also contribute to headaches and facial pain.

How is teeth grinding treated?

Treatment for teeth grinding may include the use of mouthguards or splints to protect the teeth, stress management techniques, lifestyle changes, and addressing underlying factors contributing to bruxism.

 What is a night guard, and how does it help with teeth grinding?

A night guard is a custom-fitted oral appliance worn during sleep to prevent teeth grinding and clenching. It acts as a protective barrier, reducing the impact on teeth and minimizing the risk of dental damage.

Can stress management help with teeth grinding?

Yes, stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, meditation, and counseling, can be beneficial in reducing teeth grinding associated with stress or anxiety.

Can children experience teeth grinding?

Yes, teeth grinding is not uncommon in children, especially during the early years of tooth development. In many cases, it resolves on its own as the child grows older.

 Is teeth grinding linked to sleep disorders?

Teeth grinding can be associated with certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. A comprehensive evaluation by a dentist or sleep specialist may be necessary to determine the underlying causes.

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