Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw are more than just anxious habits. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), teeth grinding — also known as bruxism — can create serious problems for oral health. People who grind their teeth may be unaware of the habit because it typically occurs while they sleep. Bruxism can have far-reaching effects on oral health, including tooth wear and the development of TMJ disorder, but a simple solution is to wear a custom-made mouth guard for teeth grinding.
Bruxism and Oral Health
The primary causes of bruxism are stress and anxiety. Over time, the physical reaction to emotional stressors of grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw becomes habitual. According to the ADA, people who grind their teeth ultimately weaken their tooth's structures. Tooth enamel is the protective barrier that surrounds teeth and it is especially prone to damage from teeth grinding. Extra force placed on the teeth from bruxism can also damage restorative dental work, such as fillings and crowns.
Grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw also strain the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the jawbone to the skull, according to WebMD. Long-term strain and stress on the TMJ can produce discomfort, including facial pain and headaches.
Night Guard for Teeth Grinding
Fortunately, the simplest solution for preventing damage to teeth from bruxism is the use of a professionally made night guard. Tell your dentist if you or a family member is known to grind their teeth or clench the jaw. Even if you are unaware of the habit, your dentist may notice it during your oral exam because excessive wear on the back molars and enamel loss both indicate bruxism.
A night guard for teeth grinding is a custom-fitted oral appliance that is made of plastic. This type of guard is worn during sleep and prevents the teeth from scraping against each other. By addressing bruxism early with professional treatment, you can prevent widespread damage to your teeth.
In addition to prescribing a teeth grinding guard, your dentist may have to restore damaged teeth with crowns or fillings to improve oral function and maintain the proper shape and size of the teeth.