What makes you grit your teeth together?
It could be the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. It could be the frustrations that are sometimes just part of being a parent. It may be stress at work or at home.
From a dental perspective, clenching and grinding your teeth are a problem. The wear and tear on your teeth can expose you to tooth decay and other problems.
It may even lead to the development of TMJ problems or outright TMJ disorders.
The team at Atlanta West Dentistry wants to help you address your habitual teeth grinding so it becomes less of a concern and a possible threat to your teeth.
We can help, but only if you make an appointment at our dentist office in Marietta, GA.
Effects Of Grinding Your Teeth
Let’s start with the obvious — you are wearing down your teeth.
When you clench and grinding your teeth together, they with wear off part of the protective enamel on the outside of your teeth. The enamel protections the softer parts on the inside of your teeth.
By removing part of that enamel, you may be leaving your teeth exposed to bacteria that cause cavities and tooth infections.
People with healthy teeth can generate bite forces between 200 and 250 pounds. This is more than enough to eat almost anything that you like.
Researchers have studied individuals who grind their teeth. They have learned through testing that teeth grinders can put 500 pounds of pressure or more on their teeth during those times.
This can cause a number of problems with your temporomandibular joint (think of this as your jaw joint) and the surrounding muscle tissue.
This problem can start with soreness and tenderness around your jaw. Those pains can extend into your face neck and shoulders, or they can lead to earaches and headaches.
TMJ issue can affect joint mobility as well. Some people may have trouble opening or closing their mouths completely. Your jaw can even become stuck temporarily.
And there may be times — such as after eating a meal — when you notice the pains are worse.
Treatments For Teeth Grinding
Clenching or grinding your teeth is often an involuntary action. Millions of people do this in their sleep. If you notice the symptoms are worse in the morning, this may be why.
It’s also possible for you to grinding you teeth when you are awake as an almost subconscious means of coping with the stress in your life.
If you are in a situation when saying something will cause a problem for you (such as right after your boss makes a big change to a project you have been working on for months), then you may even find yourself clenching your teeth to avoid saying anything at all.
One way that we can help is be making a mouthguard for you. These mouthguards are designed to be worn at night while you sleep.
When you wear the mouthguard, your top and bottom rows of teeth will not be able to touch on another. That means you won’t be able to grind them together either.
You will become more used to the mouthguard with time. The guard also may adjust the resting position of your jaw.
As your body adapts to the mouthguard, you may find that your jaw rests in a slightly different position, which makes you less likely to grinding your teeth together.
Mouthguards are often our first line of defense.
If those don’t work, another option is to make an occlusal adjustment. This is an adjustment to your bite. Doing this can alleviate the pressure created by your clenching and grinding.
Another treatment option may be Botox.
Botox can be injected into the problem spots. This too can relieve the tension in those areas and help the muscles around your TMJ stay relaxed.
End Your Pain
We have seen that teeth grinding can take a toll on your teeth. It also may contribute to long-term TMJ disorders. We think that we can agree that it’s not the kind of problem that you want to allow to continue unresolved.
When you visit our office, one of our dentists will discuss your symptoms with your and examine your teeth. We also may take X-rays to see if your teeth grinding may be the result of alignment issues.