by Dr. Christine Coughlin DDS
You may be grinding your teeth and not know itTeeth grinding or clenching – aka Bruxism (caused by a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors) is extremely prevalent and affects both adults and children alike. And most people have no idea they suffer from this condition because they’re doing it in their sleep! Unfortunately, bruxism often goes undiagnosed for years without proper examination. And the results can be devastating.
The damage caused by teeth grindingBruxism can ruin your smile and confidence by making your teeth appear yellow due to dentin (the soft, yellow layer under the enamel) exposure. It can cause your smile to look aged, uneven, and flat, causing your teeth not to fit together properly. It can also lead to pain and sensitivity as the hard protective enamel layer is worn down, and the more sensitive parts of your teeth are exposed. Furthermore, this can lead to cavities, chips, and fractures in your teeth that may need fillings, root canals, or extractions. It can also cause TMJ, Chronic Headaches, and TMJ disorders, leading to jaw pain and difficulty opening and closing your mouth. In some cases, surgery is even needed. The good news is you can stop or prevent these issues today.
Am I grinding my teeth?If you’re not sure if you’re grinding your teeth, here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Jaw pain and ache (especially when you wake up in the morning), headaches
- Wear patterns on the biting surfaces of your teeth
- Yellow appearance of your teeth (from the dentin showing through the worn enamel)
- Broken or fractured crowns, fillings, or veneers
- Abfraction – when the enamel starts to sheer off along the gum line – leading to sensitivity and decay as the dentin (the softer second layer of the tooth) is exposed. Knowing what the consequences of bruxism are, I got myself a nightguard ASAP.