The majority of us grind or clench our teeth periodically and this action is referred to as bruxism. If your teeth grinding is very spasmodic and not a regular occurrence then it is unlikely to cause you any long-term harm, but if you do it on a regular basis, it can lead to oral health complications.
Specialists such as NYC TMD dentists are able to help you deal with the problem and carry out any work associated with bruxism but firstly there is the issue of why people feel the need to grind their teeth and whether they are actually aware they are doing it.
While you are sleeping
A common difficulty associated with bruxism is that the grinding often occurs during the night whilst you are sleeping so as a consequence, a good number of patients are actually unaware they are doing this until they start to display some of the symptoms.
Teeth grinding can be as a result of suffering from stress and anxiety and it is also caused by an abnormal bite pattern or through having missing or misaligned teeth.
Explaining the teeth grinding
Ideally, our upper and lower teeth are meant to glide together smoothly and only come together whilst we are chewing our food.
Any unnatural grinding or clenching of our teeth has the effect of causing our teeth to wear and crack over a period of time and can also cause serious jaw impairment. Many of us grind our teeth and in instances where we feel anxious or nervous, the practice can be more frequent.
Related health problems become a reality when the bruxism becomes a regular habit rather than an occasional reaction to a situation. It is estimated that roughly 20% of the population grind their teeth whilst they are awake and just less than 10% do this while they are sleeping, which ultimately can have a negative effect on tooth enamel, bones, gums and the jaw.
Bruxism quite often starts in childhood when the teeth are still in their development stage and moving from milk to adult teeth.
It is believed that somewhere in the region of 15% of children regularly grind or clench their teeth, but less than 5% of them carry on the habit into adulthood, although the severity of their grinding in their early years can lead to dental and health problems.
Damage can takes its toll
A prolonged period of bruxing leaves you susceptible to a fairly wide range of damage that can have consequences as a result.
Examples of common problems include where micro-cracks and broken fillings eventually lead to nerve damage and constant headaches combined with an aching jaw can be experienced as a result of overuse of the jaw muscles.
There are numerous treatments and therapies to help you contend with the problem of bruxism, such as orthodontics to deal with misaligned teeth and the use of muscle relaxants such as Botox to minimize spasm in jaw muscles that have been overworked.
Chronic grinding is more serious and can lead to complete tooth loss and if not addressed, the problem can actually lead to hearing loss and potentially change the appearance of your face.
If you suspect you are grinding your teeth in your sleep and notice any damage or experience any of the symptoms, get it checked out by your dentist as soon as possible.
Guest Blogger: Megan Anders is a dental professional with several years experience. She especially enjoys researching the field of dentistry. She posts her illuminating articles mainly on health and dental websites.