Tooth Wear and Grinding

Introduction

Tooth Wear and GrindingTeeth grinding is clinically known as ‘Bruxism‘. It is the act of consciously or unconsciously clenching your teeth either during the day or while you sleep. Bruxism is considered both a medical and a dental problem. This is because it affects both the teeth and all of the structures near it, including the head.
Teeth grinding usually happens during sleep. Teeth grinding is actually as common as snoring.

Why do we grind or clench our teeth?

People grind their teeth for a number of reasons. Some believe that it is due to stress and anxiety; some say that it happens because one’s teeth are not properly ‘aligned’ with each other. There are quite a few reasons why people grind their teeth.

Who does it affect?

Pretty much anyone actually. Teeth grinding can also occur in children. Some parents might find it disturbing to hear their child grinding their teeth in their sleep. While it is really not as big of a problem for kids as it is for adults, it is still a good idea to bring your child to the dentist to have this teeth checked. Children normally outgrow their teeth grinding habits because their teeth are not yet permanent. Eventually, their baby teeth will be replaced with a permanent set that’s stronger, better, and more aligned.

Worn TeethHowever, the same can’t be said for adults. Adult teeth are permanent and will not change any longer. Therefore, adults should watch out for the complications of teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can bring about problems like cracked teeth and fillings, broken dentures, missing teeth, and many others. It is important for adults to consult a dentist so that their teeth grinding habit is addressed before any further problems develop.

One will only know if he or she suffers from bruxism if the symptoms of teeth grinding appear. Symptoms vary greatly with the cause. Common symptoms include:

1. Intense clenching or grinding of teeth enough to wake up somebody.
This is the main symptom of bruxism. Most of the time, the patients who have this problem clench their teeth involuntarily and without their knowledge. Teeth clenching usually happens at night although it may occur during the day as well.

2. Flattened, worn, chipped teeth.
When it comes to bruxism, it is almost always the teeth which sustain the damage.

3. Worn enamel leading to exposed dentine beneath.
People with bruxism usually have ‘exposed’ teeth i.e. the tooth enamel has been worn away exposing the underlying dentine.

4. Sensitive teeth
Most of the symptoms of bruxism are concentrated on the teeth. More than half of people who have bruxism actually have sensitive teeth. They feel extensive pain in their gums when their teeth are subjected to something very cold or very hot.

5. Pain and stiffness in the jaws and its associated muscles.
The damage associated with bruxism are concentrated in the mouth area. Even if you can observe most of the damage on the teeth, the pain is always on the jaws. Severe bruxism could strain the muscles in these parts.

6. Earache.
Earache due to bruxism is not caused by the person’s ear at all. The earaches are primarily caused by the contraction of the jaw muscles. Bruxism has no direct relationship with hearing problems. It just so happen that when the jaws move constantly and involuntarily the muscle that connects to the ear suffers as well.

7. Headache.
People who have bruxism may also suffer from chronic headaches. This is also due to muscular contraction, very similar to the case of earache. The headaches are usually mild to minor, which can be slept off or treated with a pain killer.

8. Facial pain.
Aside from earaches and headaches, facial pain is also common with people suffering from bruxism. Although it is the mouth that is most affected, every irregular movement of the jaws and teeth affects the muscular structures near it; that includes the whole area of the face. Pain in the facial muscles is very common with people suffering from bruxism.

9. Damaged cheek tissue.
Whenever the teeth grind with each other, the possibility of the cheek tissues getting in their way is high. This usually happens during the night, when the head of the person who suffers is in a sideway position. Cheek wounds or marks (‘crenations’) may also be apparent.

Treatment

Teeth grinding comes in different levels of severity. For kids, intensive treatment courses are rarely necessary because they usually outgrow the condition. However, if it affects their health considerably, it is best that you consult your dentist about it. The same is true with adults. There are just a small handful of teeth grinding instances that require therapy or surgery. Again, if the damage becomes apparent, the problem has to be addressed right away. This is to prevent future concerns arising from the condition.

Here are the most common treatment procedures for teeth grinding:

1. Stress management
Stress is the most common reason for teeth clenching. As dentists, we’ll usually make the initial diagnosis for the patient by checking his / her teeth. After a series of health questions, we can often establish why a person grinds his / her teeth. If we believe that the problem is caused by stress, then professional stress counseling may be advised. We would then refer the patient to a specialist colleague for further investigation and treatment.

2. Dental devices
We usually prescribe the use of mouth guards, splints (e.g. Michigan Splint as seen in the photos below), or any similar protective dental devices which are usually worn at night. Customised nightsplints are usually more expensive than other variants but they perform better than their counterparts.

Night Guard Appliance
Night Guard Appliance on Model

3. Dental Treatment
In some cases, we can use crowns or overlays on teeth to reshape their surfaces for better chewing and to achieve a more comfortable bite. This addresses problems rooting from one’s incapacity to chew food properly as well as tooth sensitivity. Some extensive reconstructive dental procedures may sometimes be necessary. However, most of them can’t guarantee that one’s teeth grinding habits stop altogether. They are merely performed to prevent the impending damages associated to the condition.

4. Behavior Therapy
Teeth grinding has been long regarded as a habit and a bad one at that. Elimination of bad habits is usually carried out through a series of behavior therapy sessions. Strategies like proper mouth and jaw positioning, concentration, and constant tongue practice are used to address the condition.

5. Regular medications
There are a few medications that can address the onset of bruxism and the results are not the same against all people. Some dentists and doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants, which are supposed to be taken before bedtime. Psychological drugs like anti-depression pills may actually trigger bruxism. For cases like this, doctors have to prescribe their patients a different set of drugs – the ones that would not induce teeth grinding.

In our estimation these are the most common cures for teeth wear & bruxism. Even if your condition is minor, we would advise that you visit your dentist first so you’ll be guided to the right course of action and the most effective treatment for your condition.

Opening Hours

Monday 7.30am - 5.00pm
Tuesday 7.30am - 5.00pm
Wednesday 8.00am - 7.00pm
Thursday 7.30am - 5.00pm
Friday 7.30am - 5.00pm
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

Contact Us

7 Grand Canal Wharf, South Dock Rd, Dublin 4
Eircode: D04 R860
Phone: 01 6655900
Fax: 01 6655901
Website: http://shelbourneclinic.ie
Email: info@shelbourneclinic.ie

Connect With Us!