If you grind your teeth, you’re not alone — it’s a very common issue.
But it’s important to know that grinding can damage your teeth and cause other problems like jaw pain and headaches.
We take a closer look at teeth grinding and explain how your dentist can help.
What is teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding — also known as bruxism — is when you grind, clench or gnash your teeth without realising you’re doing it.
Teeth grinding at night is very common, but it can also happen during the day.
Often the person who grinds their teeth is unaware of the issue. Their partner may notice the noises and movements at night, or its effects may be obvious when they visit the dentist.
What causes teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding and anxiety are often linked — you may grind your teeth more when you are under stress.
It also tends to be more common in people who smoke, drink alcohol and use certain drugs, including some types of antidepressants.
And teeth grinding may occur in people who have sleep disorders, like sleep apnoea.
It can even be associated with misaligned, missing or crooked teeth.
Why is teeth grinding a problem?
Grinding can cause a range of issues that affect your health and general well-being. These include:
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Damage to restorative work, for example, fillings
- Excessive wear on the teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Strain on the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull
- Jaw pain
- Enlargement of the jaw muscles
- Clicking or popping when you move your jaw
- Neck pain
- A feeling of fullness or tenderness in the ears
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
How to stop teeth grinding
If you think you have an issue with teeth grinding, a trip to your dentist for a check-up is a good call. They will be able to see whether the grinding has caused any damage and carry out repairs.
Your dentist can also provide you with a special type of mouthguard called a bite splint to wear at night. This means that if you grind in your sleep, the splint is worn down instead of your teeth.
Know that you will need to get your bite splint specially made. An existing mouthguard for use during active sports won’t be suitable as it will have extra cushioning, making it uncomfortable to sleep in.
You may also like to speak to your doctor about the causes behind your grinding. They can investigate sleep disorders or suggest help if stress is contributing to your teeth grinding.
In this case, you may benefit from relaxation or stress management techniques such as:
- Deep breathing
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
Eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting into a good sleep routine can also help.
Let us help with your teeth grinding
Even if you’re unaware of your teeth grinding, it can affect your dental health and general well-being.
That’s why it’s a great idea to come and see us at Opal Dental, your local dentists for Te Atatu and the surrounding areas.
Book an appointment with us, and we’ll be able to check for damage caused by teeth grinding and help fix it.
We can also give advice on how to stop any further damage occurring.
This is just one of the many dental services we offer — get in touch to find out more!