Dental Tips Blog

Mar
12

What is Tooth Grinding?

You may think of tooth grinding as a simple response to stress.  Unfortunately, while many people do grind their teeth, the ramifications of long-term tooth grinding are extensive.  This article will talk about the damage that tooth grinding can do, and ways to help stop grinding your teeth.

Clenching your teeth often is noticed by the fact that you have a stress headache near the end of the day, or your mouth feels tired or ‘tight’.  You may feel pressure on your back molars or back teeth.  Extreme cases of clenching may even have a larger than normal jaw muscle from the extra pressure being applied in the mouth.

Alternatively, grinding is when you actually move your teeth back and forth and up and down on each other.  This may be done while you are awake as a response to stressors, or when you are sleeping.  Many times, clenching and grinding are done together.  Teeth grinders may have family members who wake them in the middle of the night telling them to stop.

In either case, both clenching and grinding will wear teeth down.  Your teeth are not designed to take the additional stress of daily grinding or clenching, and should not be used in this manner.

If you or a family member grind or clench at night, a bite guard may be helpful.  This will stop the stress from being placed on your teeth to help avoid damage.  Damage that results from clenching and grinding includes broken teeth, gum damage, and potential TMJ disorders.

Other techniques to help eliminate grinding and clenching include stress control and relaxation techniques.  If you find yourself grinding or clenching during the day, take a few deep, cleansing breaths.  Visualize blowing up a balloon, and imagine yourself in a calm place.  Try to conscientiously determine when you are clenching or grinding so you can change your habits.  You may want to enlist the help of a friend or family member if you are unaware of when you clench or grind.

Stopping clenching or grinding will greatly reduce your risks of gum disease and potential tooth loss.  If you are having problems with tooth clenching or grinding, talk to your dentist about some additional strategies to help eliminate this problem and keep your teeth healthy.

Posted on the behalf of Dr. James C. Kincaid

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