Unusual Conditions That Affect The Health of Our Mouth - Teeth Grinding

Although teeth grinding is not exactly an oral health issue, but when it becomes a persistent long-term problem it will adversely affect our teeth and harm the general health of our mouth. While most people clench their teeth through the course of normal life situations, it can become a serious condition that requires medical intervention.

Problematic teeth grinding is referred to as persistent “bruxism,” can damage the enamel layer of our teeth. Untreated Enamel damage can lead to tooth decay and other oral health issues.

Typical teeth grinding is caused by stress and anxiety and occurs when we sleep. When it gets to the point that it causes tooth damage, it must be fixed immediately. It is important that "teeth grinders" monitor the condition of their teeth.

Consequences of Long-term Teeth Grinding - Damage to Tooth Enamel

Long-term consequences of persistent teeth grinding is damage and destruction of teeth. Specifically, the enamel of the teeth is damaged first, if not arrested the dentin and soft tissue of the tooth will also suffer significant damage.

Teeth grinders should closely monitor the condition of their teeth, especially the areas where the teeth come together in the process of grinding. The best course of action is to schedule regular checkups with a dentist so that he or she can look for enamel damage. Without a dentist or a dental hygienist's keen eye, it's hard to determine the existence or extent of the damage.

The “grinding” damage is usually found on the highest tooth. The initial damage of grinding will be found at the tooth's high points. The high point of the tooth is the spot where an upper tooth comes into direct connect with a lower tooth. Most likely, there will be several teeth involved. The high points of our the tooth are the most susceptible to enamel damage, and in severe cases, the high points of the tooth will be completely ground down. These teeth are candidates for infection and tooth decay.

If untreated, the tooth can be ground down to the point where the enamel is destroyed and the underlying tissue exposed and unprotected. 

Enamel damage can also affect the non-grinding folks. For people with an abnormal bite, missing teeth, or even crooked teeth, the high points of the teeth can be worn down over time. In the course of normal conditions (eating and chewing), the high points of non-teeth grinders are susceptible to enamel damage. It just takes longer for the damage to occur when compared to damage found in teeth grinders. To be safe, it's always a good practice to have your teeth's high points monitored by a dentist or dental hygienist.

Severe Teeth Grinding Requires Immediate Treatment by a Dentist

In some situations, persistent teeth grinding can fracture a tooth and thus make the tooth vulnerable to infection (tooth decay). Fractured teeth require treatment that only a dentist can provide. In the most bizarre cases, constant teeth grinding can wear down a tooth (or teeth) until it becomes a literal stump. When this occurs, the only choice is to repair/restore the affected tooth with a bridge, crown, root canal, implant, or partial denture.

If emotional stress is the cause of persistent teeth grinding, you should seek the advice of your dentist as well as a mental health counselor. Both your dentists and your mental health practitioner are trained to provide treatment or refer you to another professional with specialized training. 

Treatment options range from minor exercises to medical procedures. The type of treatment best for you will be dependent upon the severity of your case. A popular non-invasive preventative treatment, often used as an initial treatment option, comes in the form of a tooth guard. This tooth guard is similar to the mouth guard an athlete would use while participating in various contact sports, such as football or boxing.

A tooth guard is also referred to as a "teeth guard." Although a tooth guard will not stop the grinding, it will prevent additional damage, or at least slow down the progress of damage.

Tooth guards work by place a thin layer rubberized material between the grinding teeth. The rubberized material minimizes the potential damage as the grinding persists. Protective teeth guards are typically worn at night which is when the grinding takes place. Teeth guards are designed to reduce the damage associated with unconscious and uncontrollable teeth grinding. 

Moreover, your dentist may recommend coinciding therapeutic interventions, such as therapeutic counseling. Counseling may help you to manage stress and reduce anxiety and hopefully stop the grinding altogether. Other helpful therapeutic interventions for teeth grinding are exercise, drinking lots of water, elimination of caffeine, and prescribed medication [muscle relaxants]).

Popular DIY Treatment Approaches to Reduce or Arrest Teeth Grinding

  • Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid chewing gum or any other non-food item, such as a pencil.
  • Train yourself to be cognitively aware of a clinched jaw and actively try not to clench or grind your teeth
  • Practicing relaxation techniques can help you train your jaw muscles to relax