Dangers Of Teeth Grinding

Cosmetic_DentistryThe practice of cosmetic dentistry is concerned with helping patients look their best, but dentists in this field know that your mouth won’t look good if it doesn’t feel good or function well. The condition known as bruxism, or teeth grinding, is an example of a situation that can cause pain, diminish the proper functioning of your teeth, and threaten the appearance of your smile.

Teeth grinding occurs when you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. Some patients grind their teeth during the day, while others discover (often from reports of a family member who hears it) they do this unconsciously during their sleep. Symptoms can include a constant dull ache in the face or jaw, highly sensitive teeth, or teeth that appear worn down or broken.

Stress, tension and anger play a role in many cases of bruxism. It can also result if a patient’s bite pattern is off, a condition known as malocclusion. Chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, or even change the appearance of your face.

Practitioners of cosmetic dentistry treat teeth grinding with a variety of measures. Special mouth guards or splints may be ordered to keep the teeth apart during sleep. They may take steps to correct the patient’s bite, as well. Patients with bruxism may practice putting the tip of their tongue between their teeth to discourage the clenching or gnashing motions that drive teeth grinding. Stress management and relaxation training can also help reduce the amount of unaddressed tension in a patient’s life, which can also help reduce the amount of teeth grinding that occurs.

Your dentist will check for damage to your teeth at your twice-yearly cleaning visit. Be sure to let him or her know if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of teeth grinding.

“The damage caused by teeth grinding may seem subtle, but it is truly insidious,” says Dr. Carol Ford, who practices cosmetic dentistry in central Phoenix. “By reporting your symptoms to your dentist, you will protect your teeth and jaw from long-term damage from this condition, and save yourself a great deal of physical pain.”

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