Hygienist holding a set of Invisalign

Dental Damage from Teeth Grinding: Bruxism Wear and Tear By Stephen Dowell, DDS on July 23, 2018

Teeth grinding refers to the gnashing, clenching, and gritting of the teeth when a person is asleep. This can happen occasionally or it may be a long-term condition. In the latter case, teeth grinding can lead to major wear and tear to the teeth and other structures of the mouth.

Our Minerva, OH cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice offers a number of dental procedures to treat teeth grinding and the damage it does. Let’s take a moment to go over the nature of the condition, why it must be taken seriously, and how your dentist can help.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

The two most common causes of teeth grinding are as follows:

  • Poor Dental Alignment - When your teeth are poorly aligned, this can lead to an inability to find a good resting position. Your teeth may shift through the night for the lack of a comfortable resting position.
  • Stress and Anxiety - If you are stressed out, this can manifest in teeth grinding while you are asleep. This could be a temporary issue, or it may exacerbate existing cases of teeth grinding.

In addition, drug use, medication side effects, and certain medical conditions may make teeth grinding more likely.

Tooth Fractures

The stress on your teeth over a long period of time can result in the tooth enamel chipping and cracking. This can result in tooth sensitivity as well as your teeth being more prone to serious damage, such as more severe fractures and possible root canal infection.

Gum Recession

The stress on the teeth can also affect your gums. Over time, the gum may start to recede as a result of the constant stress and strain. This exposes more of a tooth’s root structure, which leaves teeth more susceptible to tooth decay as well as other serious health problems.

Dental Abfractions

Abfractions are the small notches that appear along the root structure of the tooth right at the gumline. These small lesions in the tooth are the result of pressure and stress exerted on the tooth structure over time.

TMJ Disorders (TMD)

The strain on the teeth and gums can also cause stress on the jaw. The clenching can wear down the cartilage of the jaw joint and overwork the muscles. This may eventually lead to a TMJ disorder. The most common sign of this problem is a clicking or popping jaw, though a TMD can also cause jaw pain, earaches, and lockjaw.

Treatments for Teeth Grinding

For most teeth grinding treatments, a custom bite guard is an important first step. This bite guard prevents direct contact between the teeth during sleep. In the process, the bit guard limits the amount of damage done to your teeth, gums, and jaw, which can relieve symptoms.

When it comes to treating teeth grinding, the best option is typically addressing the root cause. Orthodontic treatment may be considered to improve dental alignment, which makes clenching and shifting of the teeth less of an issue.

Relaxation techniques and stress relief is also an important part of treating teeth grinding. This could mean stretching, yoga, going for walks, meditation, or mindfulness exercises.

Repairing the Damage Done

To repair the damage done, various restorative measures can be taken. Fillings, inlays, onlays, or crowns can help fix fractured teeth. Gum recession can be treated with grafting procedures which rebuild the gumline. TMJ disorders may be remedied with cortisone injections and non-invasive techniques, though surgery could be performed as well.

Contact Dowell Dental Group

For more information about treating tooth damage and other problems related to teeth grinding, be sure to contact an experienced dentist about your issues. We are here to provide insight and expert care.


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