Charleston dentists Dr. James Dickert and Dr. Agatha Lynn provide comprehensive care for complex dental concerns such as TMJ disorders. They have advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of the signs, symptoms, and dental problems associated with bite disorders and can help you restore the health and function of your smile with lasting results.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is often the symptom of a more complex bite problem such as a TMJ disorder. Unfortunately, many patients do not realize they are grinding their teeth (or clenching their jaw) until they begin to experience the often painful symptoms and/or tooth wear and damage.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
It is often hard to pinpoint the exact cause of teeth grinding. There are actually many reasons people grind their teeth in their sleep but it is most likely triggered by stress. This stress can be caused by events in your life or stress in the occlusal system.
When the teeth, jaw joints, and muscles aren’t working in harmony, it creates tension which leads to facial pain, headaches, teeth grinding, and other problems. The most common reasons people grind their teeth include:
- Sleep disorders
- Abnormal bite
- Missing teeth
- Misaligned teeth
- Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease
- May be associated with alcohol or tobacco use
During routine visits and consultations, we take the time to look for the common signs of teeth grinding. These can include worn and damaged teeth or irritation of the soft tissues inside the mouth. Teeth grinding can cause your teeth to crack, chip, or loosen as they are repeatedly stressed. Over time, teeth grinding can even lead to tooth loss.
Treatment Options For Teeth Grinding in Charleston
Dawson Academy alumni Drs. Dickert and Lynn have advanced training in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders and related symptoms. Using occlusal analysis and effective treatment provided on an individualized basis, we can help you restore a comfortable and functional bite.
Treatment options for bruxism can include:
- Mouthguard or night guard: for many patients, conservative treatment with a custom mouthguard can prevent teeth grinding by positioning the jaw correctly. This appliance can also be worn when feeling stressed, a common trigger for jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
- Restorative dentistry: if the teeth are not making proper contact when biting, we may recommend an appropriate restorative dental procedure to adjust the surfaces or repair damage.
- Orthodontics: Dr. Dickert and Dr. Lynn are Charleston Invisalign® providers and may recommend this or other orthodontic treatment to straighten your smile and balance your bite.
- Repairing the Damage: We will also focus on correcting any damage that may have resulted from the teeth grinding. Dr. Dickert and Dr. Lynn can repair worn down, chipped, or broken teeth using dental crowns, porcelain veneers or cosmetic bonding.
Teeth Grinding FAQs
Why do people grind their teeth?
Some people grind their teeth as a response to emotion. Nervousness, stress, and anger are all emotions that may cause someone to grind their teeth. Teeth grinding can also be a habit formed in one’s sleep. Wearing a mouthguard can protect your teeth from your grinding.
What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?
Most people who grind their teeth at night experience other issues. These may include neck pain, shoulder pain, TMJ, headaches, and insomnia. Grinding your teeth can have many negative effects on your health. Over time, it can cause your teeth to crack and chip eventually.
Why does tooth grinding cause headaches?
The muscles in the TMJ are connected to the muscles in the head and neck. Continual teeth grinding creates tension in the teeth and jaw. This tension spreads to the surrounding muscles. If you regularly grind your teeth, you can experience headaches.
What can you do to stop grinding your teeth?
In order to stop teeth grinding you have to identify the source and stop it there. That means finding what is causing you to grind your teeth and filing that issue. For many people, it may be stress or anxiety causing them to grind their teeth.
In that case, addressing what area of their life is causing them stress will hopefully help with the grinding. In order to protect your teeth from further damage wearing a mouthguard at night can be a helpful preventive tool.
How can you relax your jaw if you grind your teeth?
Jaw exercises and a proper jaw position can help relax your muscles if you regularly grind your teeth. One common jaw exercise is to place the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth. Then, slowly open and close the mouth.
You can also apply a warm compress to your jaw. Placing a heating pad or warm washcloth in 15-minute increments increases blood flow to the jaw muscles.
Why is teeth grinding so harmful?
Teeth grinding is harmful to your teeth because it is constant pressure on things that are only meant to be used to eat and digest our food. When force is applied, often it can cause many issues for the surface of the teeth.
Schedule a Dental Exam with our Dentists in Charleston SC
If you are concerned that you have a bite problem or have noticed that your teeth appear worn, schedule a visit to our Charleston dentist office for a consultation with one of our dentists. Contact us at (843) 371-5480 or request an appointment online.