Many people clench or grind teeth occasionally, but when teeth grinding becomes excessive, it can damage teeth and lead to other oral health problems. Promptly treating teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can prevent future problems, such as the premature wearing of the teeth.Bruxism is a medical or dental condition that involves excessive clenching or grinding…
How to Prevent Teeth Grinding at Night
If you suffer from teeth grinding at night, your dentist has likely already gone over the risks with you. Teeth grinding is bad for your overall oral health. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to prevent teeth grinding. These steps will protect your teeth and smile.
Why is teeth grinding bad?
Patients who occasionally have teeth grinding, called bruxism, do not have any concerns. When this grinding occurs regularly, it can damage the teeth. Teeth grinding can also cause additional oral health complications. When teeth grinding occurs at night, it can be hard to spot and even harder to stop.
In patients with chronic teeth grinding, teeth can loosen, fracture or be lost. In extreme cases, teeth grinding can lead to teeth worn down all the way to stumps. That can lead to patients requiring a treatment to correct the damage. Potential treatments include root canals, partial dentures, implants, bridges and crowns. Teeth grinding can additionally impact the jaws. This may lead to TMJ or even changes in facial appearance.
How to prevent teeth grinding at night
Once a dentist identifies teeth grinding, prevention can begin. Dentists have numerous options in terms of treatment suggestions.
Using a mouth guard
Mouth guards are common preventative methods to stop teeth grinding at night. The mouth guard fits the patient’s teeth and protects the teeth from any grinding that occurs.
In some cases, teeth grinding is due to stress. In that situation, reducing the stress can prevent the grinding at night. A patient may try exercising, visiting a physical therapist or going to stress counseling. Muscle relaxants may also help.
Treating a sleeping disorder that causes it
Sometimes, a sleep disorder will cause teeth grinding. In this case, the dentist will suggest having the primary care doctor treat the sleep disorder. Controlling the sleep disorder may reduce or fully eliminate the grinding.
Avoiding some foods and drinks
Dentists have connected avoiding specific drinks and food to a reduction in teeth grinding as well. Patients who grind the teeth should avoid anything with caffeine or alcohol.
Relaxing jaw muscles before bed
Some patients also notice a reduction in grinding by relaxing the jaw muscles before bed. Patients can achieve this relaxation by placing a warm washcloth on the cheek right in front of the earlobe. Relaxed jaw muscles are less likely to grind.
Specific methods for teeth grinding in children
It is common for children to grind their teeth at night. This is more common at two points: when the baby teeth and the permanent teeth emerge. The teeth grinding phase typically passes. In the meantime, parents can reduce the child’s stress, ensure the child is hydrated or relax muscles via stretching exercises or massage.
In some situations, dentists can correct teeth grinding at night via a reductive coronoplasty. This procedure can level or reshape the teeth’s biting surface. This method might work in situations of grinding due to crooked, misaligned or crowded teeth.
If you experience teeth grinding, try some of the above options to avoid dental damage. Your dentist may suggest a mouth guard, relaxation or avoiding specific foods and drinks. With the above preventative techniques, you can minimize the risk of teeth grinding damaging your teeth.
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