Bruxism, or tooth grinding as it’s commonly known as, can be a highly destructive habit that not only shortens teeth and contributes to tooth fractures and gum recession, but also induces pain of facial muscles and jaw joints. Impacting patients of all ages and walks of life, tooth grinding is often assumed normal and an expected occurrence during times of stress and tension. Though grinding can in some cases be linked to emotional stress, it can also present without emotional triggers and be the result of untreated bite issues. Ignoring daily grinding can have serious consequences on a person’s quality of sleep and their overall dental health.
What Does Our Bite Have to Do With Tooth Grinding?
The body is an amazing machine with such fine-tuned senses that it can detect an imbalance in the mouth that is the size of a micron. Detecting bite imbalances prompts the brain to send a message to facial muscles, asking them to either remove the interference (by grinding) or to adapt by avoiding the imbalance by biting differently. These messages are all being sent behind the scenes and with such delicacy a patient can’t detect these small adaptations until the action of grinding becomes a daily habit. Once formed, the habit of tooth grinding is hard to kick as it becomes the new norm, and oral tissues soon bare the signs of this damaging habit. The impact of our bite on tooth grinding is frequently observed in adolescents prior to orthodontic treatment, when poor tooth and jaw alignment causes clenching and grinding in an attempt to balance the bite.
How Does Tooth Grinding Impact Oral Health?
As innocent as it may seem, the habit of grinding teeth can cause significant and permanent damage to all oral tissues. Grinding consists of exerting unnatural forces on specific teeth for an extended period, leading teeth to become shorter, worn, and display a lack of anatomy. Tooth grinding inflicts a huge amount of flexion on a tooth – making surrounding tissues of gum and bone adapt to the abnormal side-to-side movement. Gum recession and subsequent bone loss is frequently noted in long-term grinders as the consistent force exerted on teeth cause an inflammatory response of these supporting tissues. Along with gum recession, bone loss, tooth wear, and damage to dentistry, grinding can instigate jaw joint discomfort.
Preventing Tooth Grinding consists of correcting contributing bite issues and addressing emotional triggers that instigate the habit. Talking to the dentists at Ranchlands Dental about the use of a night guard to prevent tooth damage is a great place to start in combating tooth grinding.