We often think of our smiles as being attacked from outside forces—sugars, staining beverages, and one-off accidents. However, in many cases, the biggest dangers to long-term oral health are structural problems or chronic habits, like bruxism. Keep reading to learn more about how and why bruxism develops, and what you can do about it.
What is bruxism?
We use the term “bruxism” to refer to any chronic or habitual dental grinding or clenching. This behavior may manifest during the day, or when the patient is asleep, or both. Bruxism is problematic because it puts an immense amount of pressure on your dental enamel as well as your temporomandibular joints.
What causes bruxism?
There are a number of underlying issues that can lead to bruxism. Sometimes, bruxism is a response to stress and anxiety. Bruxism can also develop if a patient’s bite alignment is poor; when the teeth do not come together comfortably and naturally, the patient will unconsciously move their bottom jaw back and forth in an effort to find a comfortable resting place. A damaged to temporomandibular joint can also lead to bite destabilization and consequently dental grinding.
What kinds of treatments are available?
Our Elmhurst dentists use a number of different treatments for bruxism; we tailor treatments to address the relevant underlying cause of the patient’s dental imbalance. Orthodontic treatment and thoughtfully placed restorations, for example, can help to balance how the top and bottom teeth come together. In instances of nighttime bruxism caused by stress, it may be helpful for the patient to wear a custom-fit oral appliance when sleeping.
If you notice any signs of symptoms of bruxism in your own life, please reach out to our Elmhurst dentists to schedule a personal consultation. The sooner that you begin treatment from bruxism the less likely you will be to develop long-term complications like enamel thinning and dental sensitivity.