Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a destructive habit. Whether it occurs during the day or at night, it can grind down your teeth and damage your jaw joints. Fortunately, teeth grinding can be treated. We can reduce or eliminate your grinding and restore teeth damaged by your teeth grinding. You’ll have a healthy, attractive, and comfortable bite again.
If you’re tired of your teeth grinding, please call (314) 375-5353 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with neuromuscular dentist Dr. Chris Hill at City Smiles with offices in downtown St. Louis and Clayton.
What Causes Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding can have many different causes. Some of the most common causes include:
- Anxiety or stress
- Habitual grinding related to physical or mental effort
- Lifestyle factors like tobacco use, caffeine consumption, and alcohol use
- Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
- Bite problems like TMJ
Most cases of bruxism are caused by anxiety and stress. However, these are more likely to be transient cases and less likely to lead to long-lasting damage to the teeth and joints. Treatment for this type of bruxism is best handled by removing the causes of stress.
Some people grind their teeth when they are concentrating or clench their teeth when they are putting in high levels of physical effort. These are also less likely to cause serious damage unless they are chronic or related to bite problems.
Some medications can cause teeth grinding. The most common are antidepressants, which can lead to seriously damaging bruxism.
People who use tobacco, drink many caffeinated beverages, or consume alcohol to excess are more likely to have damaging bruxism. Some forms of illegal drugs–especially MDMA (ecstasy)–may also cause damaging bruxism.
Sleep apnea is a serious cause of sleep bruxism. If your airway is collapsing at night, you will awaken slightly to reopen your airway. To do this, your brain will clench your jaw. Since apneic events may happen hundred of times a night, you may spend most of the night with your jaw clenched. Oral appliance therapy can treat this cause of bruxism and protect your teeth.
Teeth grinding can cause bite problems like TMJ by damaging teeth and jaw joints, but it may also be caused by bite problems. If your jaw isn’t in a comfortable position, your muscles will work hard to find a rest position, which can cause grinding.
Protecting Your Teeth
Once we’ve discovered the cause of your teeth grinding, we will work to protect your teeth. A bite guard can be used that will cushion your teeth against the force of your bite.
If bite problems like TMJ are suspected, the bite guard can be part of the treatment. However, in many case, the bite guard is just to protect your teeth while other solutions are sought for the grinding. Some treatments, like habit and lifestyle changes, can take awhile to take effect, and we want to prevent damage to your teeth in the meantime.
Restoring Your Smile
If you have been grinding your teeth for a while, or if your bruxism was particularly severe (bite forces during bruxism can be over 50 times normal bite forces!), you likely have serious and widespread damage to your teeth.
Teeth that are worn down as a result of bruxism may be sensitive because the enamel has been worn away, exposing the dentin. They may also have significant decay on the top because dentin is more vulnerable to decay than enamel or at the gum line, because enamel can flake off there under stress. All your teeth can be restored, and, if necessary, heavily damaged teeth can be extracted and replaced with dental implants.
If you are experiencing teeth grinding or have the lingering effects of past grinding, we can help. Please call (314) 375-5353 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Chris Hill at City Smiles in St. Louis.