Teeth grinding can be harmful to the teeth and gums. Also known as bruxism it can lead to inflammation of the gums, tooth fractures and possible tooth loss.
It is a common condition which many people experience where they grind or clench their teeth and can be caused by a single factor or a combination of reasons. Facial pain, jaw pain, headaches and worn-down teeth are symptoms of teeth grinding, although they can also be a sign of other oral issues.
Regular dental appointments are key as your dentist can spot the signs of bruxism, although you should book an appointment early if you display any of the symptoms.
What causes bruxism?
One of the main causes of teeth grinding is stress or anxiety. However, it may be a partner who first sees the signs as teeth grinding can often happen as we sleep.
Your dentist will be able to assess your teeth grinding for any oral issues which may be contributing to it. They may ask you about your lifestyle too as substances such as nicotine and alcohol have been linked to bruxism.
Research suggests those who smoke or drink alcohol could be twice as likely to grind their teeth, while heavy coffee drinkers could be 1.5 times more at risk. If stress is seen as the main contributing factor, though, a stress reduction plan can be implemented.
What can be done?
An oral condition which may also be a factor in teeth grinding is a misaligned or improper bite. Our teeth on the upper and lower jaws should sit comfortably together when the mouth is closed, but this is not always the case. Improper bites such as an open bite or a crossbite can put extra stress and discomfort on the jaw and can result in teeth grinding.
Your dentist will be able to evaluate an improper bite and recommend a suitable treatment plan, including orthodontics.
Your dentist can also determine if the bruxism is related to a disorder such as sleep apnoea. Symptoms of sleep apnoea include heavy snoring, fatigue and morning headaches.
Teeth grinding can lead to serious oral problems and should not be ignored. If you think you are grinding your teeth, book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for assessment. The earlier you spot bruxism the quicker a treatment plan can be implemented to mitigate its effects.