Tooth Grinding (Bruxism)
Bruxism, also known as tooth grinding, is the medical term for clenching or grinding teeth. 25 million Americans unconsciously grind their teeth and/or clench their jaw, either while awake or during sleep. If not resolved, this activity can lead to weakened or cracked teeth, receeding gums, damaged jaw joint, headaches, disrupted sleep and more. Occasional bruxism may not be harmful but when it occurs regularly, it may be associated with moderate to severe dental damage, facial pain, and disturbed sleep.
How do I find out if I grind my teeth?
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. He or she can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.
Why is teeth grinding harmful?
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear their teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face. Sleep bruxism may also be linked with other medical conditions and have an impact on quality of life.