Bruxism – Damaging To Teeth And Difficult To Control

Grinding our teeth whilst we sleep can cause long term damage

tooth painThere are a number of things that can cause harm to our teeth and gums. Some of these, such as eating too much sugar, can be controlled with a little bit of willpower. Others, like bruxism, are not so easily controlled yet can cause a large amount of damage in just a short period of time depending on the severity.

In today’s Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic blog, we will discuss the nature of teeth grinding and how we can help you here in Canterbury.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is simply the grinding of teeth. Whilst this can occur when we are awake, if we are sufficiently stressed or angry, it mostly occurs whilst we are asleep. This makes it very difficult to keep under control. There are a number of theories as to why this happens but most believe that it is due to stress and that the grinding of teeth is a subconscious outlet for our anxiety. We may not even realise that we do this and some of the damage may occur over a long period of time. This is not always the case though.

What damage can it do?

The most significant damage that bruxism can cause is the breaking of teeth. This usually only happens if the teeth are already weak and/or the grinding is particularly aggressive. Teeth have been known to fracture and break when it is this severe. More common though is the gradual wearing down of the enamel. This still causes problems though with tooth sensitivity and vulnerability to tooth decay being particular problems. In addition to this, worn teeth are also more prone to breaking than healthy ones.

Another issue that many teeth grinders suffer from are TMJ problems. The TMJ (or temporomandibular joint to give it its correct name) is essentially the hinge that allows us to open and close our mouths. Usually this happens more or less in an up and down motion but when we grind our teeth, this joint is placed under a lot of undue stress, moving it into positions that it was not meant for. Over time, this can lead to not only a painful jaw, but also headaches and other facial pains.

Can it be prevented?

It would seem that the only way to prevent bruxism is to deal with whatever is causing you stress. Sometimes this can be done by changing whatever the root cause of it is but sometimes this is not so easy. A stressful job or financial difficulties could cause this and may take some time to resolve. Methods such as relaxation techniques and meditation might help. You might wish to talk to your GP about this.

You might also wish to consider having a mouthguard made. This won’t stop the anxiety but can prevent you from grinding your teeth together during sleep. They might take a little getting used to but some patients find them really helpful in preventing problems like broken teeth.

Restoring damaged teeth

Whilst you are still grinding your teeth, it may only be possible to repair any that become damaged with temporary solutions such as fillings or bonding. Eventually though, most of our Canterbury patients will overcome whatever is causing them to grind their teeth together and will then want to look at their options for more permanent restorations. The nature of any restorations will depend on the amount of damage done. For minor damage and breakages, it may be possible to restore using a tooth coloured filling. Where more significant damage has been done though, other options are available.

Worn enamel – Where the surface enamel of your teeth has worn down but your teeth are otherwise in reasonable condition, you might wish to have dental veneers fitted to protect your teeth from tooth decay and also minimise any discomfort from sensitivity. This treatment can protect teeth for ten years or more before needing replacement.

Broken teeth – Where a tooth has been damaged beyond the point that a filling would suffice, it might be necessary to add a crown to it to provide not only a natural appearance but also sufficient strength for day to day use. We have our own dental laboratory so you can be sure that you will receive high quality crowns, should you need them.

Replacement teeth – In some cases, a breakage might be so bad that it is not possible to restore the tooth, or if we did, it would be so weak that its prognosis would be poor. In a case like this, it is often better to extract the tooth and provide a replacement instead. Many of our Canterbury patients have had dental implants placed at our practice and have found these to be an excellent alternative to dentures and are much easier to care for. We will be pleased to discuss tooth replacement options with you.

If you do grind your teeth, we want you to know that we are here to support your dental needs both during and afterwards. Why not come and talk to one of the Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic team about your problem and see how we can help you? You can call us today on 01227 463529 and our local, experienced team will be pleased to assist.