Teeth grinding (bruxism) refers to the gnashing or the clenching of teeth during sleep. Over time, if bruxism is not treated, it can result in serious damage to the teeth and gums, and other structures of the mouth.
Before we take a look at ways you might be able to treat bruxism, let’s first explore why you may be grinding your teeth.
What causes teeth grinding (bruxism)?
Although it is not always clear what causes bruxism, it’s often linked to:
- Stress and anxiety (the most common cause of bruxism)
- A side effect of sleep issues such as snoring and sleep apnea
- A side effect of taking certain medications, including a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Poor dental alignment
- Smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, and taking recreational drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy
What does teeth grinding do to your teeth and gums?
Wears down your teeth
With the constant grinding of teeth, it’s no surprise that, over time, it can lead to a serious eroding of the teeth. Chips, cracks, and abfractions are just a few ways that grinding can damage the teeth. Other fractures may also form, which cause the teeth to become weaker and therefore are more likely to break. These fractures can also expose the lower layers of the tooth’s structure, making the teeth a lot more sensitive and even painful. You’ll notice this, particularly during a cold beverage.
It’s not just your teeth that get a beating from constant teeth grinding, it’s also your gums. Over time, teeth grinding can lead to serious gum recession, exposing the roots of your teeth. The first sign of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity.
What treatments are available for teeth grinding?
Your dentist will be able to provide you with plenty of options for treating teeth grinding. One of the main treatments offered is a mouth guard, which you wear during sleep. This helps to reduce stress on the jaw and other structures of the mouth.
While a mouth guard can physically help to protect your teeth from grinding as you sleep, it doesn’t deal with the underlying cause. As stress is the most common cause of bruxism, one of the best ways to prevent teeth grinding is to find ways to relax.
Ways to de-stress include:
- Meditation and other breathing exercises
- Listening to music
- Doing regular exercise
- Avoiding technology at least an hour before bed
- Creating a peaceful environment while you sleep, making sure your bedroom is dark and quiet
To understand more about the link between stress and oral health, check out our blog “The Fascinating Link Between Stress and Oral Heath”.
If you suspect that bruxism is causing severe damage to your teeth and gums, we recommend booking an appointment with your dentist immediately.
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