Teeth grinding and jaw clenching, medically known as bruxism, are common to many people. While occasional grinding and clenching can be harmless, if bruxism occurs continually, it can be very harmful to your dental health. Chronic teeth grinding can result in damaged teeth and gums. The repetitive grinding motion wears down the protective enamel of teeth, leaving the dentin exposed and eroded. Grinding can cause TMJ pain and headaches and may even change the appearance of the face. Tooth grinding most often occurs at night and many people may not realize that they are doing it.
Tell-tale symptoms of bruxism can include:
- jaw soreness
- facial strain
- constant, dull headaches
- tooth sensitivity
The most common preventive solution is to use a night guard known as an occlusal appliance. These custom mouth pieces do not stop teeth from grinding but they protect teeth from further damage and can reduce facial pain and headaches caused from bruxism. Your dentist can see signs of teeth grinding during an oral examination. Treatment plans are relatively simple and can save your teeth and gums.