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Most people associate a visit to the dentist as being a normal routine checkup for simple procedures such as Smile Perfected teeth whitening procedures or general cleanings. But for some people, teeth grinding is a big problem especially when they can’t seem to control it at all. If you have this kind of problem, you might want to visit your Dentist in Ballwin so that you can get an opinion on what to do about it.
Get to know more about teeth grinding first before you figure out how to deal with it.
Why Does Teeth Grinding Occur?
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, as it is known among dentists and doctors, occurs because these people have sleep disorders, or they experience a lot of stress and anxiety. Whichever of these is the cause, the fact is that teeth grinding is generally observed in patients while they are asleep.
Some patients also grind their teeth while they are awake. If this is happening to you, you really need to find a good dentist who will help you because left untreated teeth grinding can harm your teeth. You might wind up with broken or worn-down teeth, which will really affect your smile as well as your dental health in general.
Problems Caused by Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding can result in these:
- Your tongue could get wounded if you accidentally bite on it due to teeth grinding.
- Your cheeks could get bitten too.
- Your upper teeth or lower teeth could get cracked or worn down due to the friction.
- Your bite could get misaligned because your teeth grow in a crooked fashion.
- Some of your teeth could fall out after getting damaged by the teeth grinding.
- Your jaw could get swollen and painful because you tend to clench your jaw that causes tension which can last for a while. This may even result in temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ) which is another problem related to your jaw that your dentist will have to treat you for.
How is Teeth Grinding Treated By a Dentist?
Your dentist may recommend the following solutions to address your teeth grinding problem.
- Cosmetic Dentistry - If your teeth grinding hasn’t been fixed yet and has been occurring for quite some time, your dentist will probably have to do some cosmetic dentistry because your teeth may have been damaged already. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry is more commonly done nowadays because the stigma attached to it has lessened over the years.
Even people who have lost some teeth due to teeth grinding may benefit from cosmetic dentistry prostheses like dentures. So you may wind up with a good looking smile after all, even if you were grinding your teeth in the past.
- Mouth Guards - If you’ve been watching basketball games or boxing matches on TV, you have probably seen athletes put this plastic thing in their mouths before they compete. Those are mouth guards and they are supposed to be a barrier between the upper teeth and the lower teeth so that the athlete doesn’t bite hard and create harmful friction.
The mouth guard that the dentist will prescribe for you serves the same purpose - to prevent you from biting and grinding down on your teeth while you are asleep. Since you will be the only one using this, the mouth guard is customized for the shape of your mouth and fixed position of your teeth.
- Mouth Splint - A mouth splint is similar to a mouth guard in that it aims to prevent your upper teeth from grinding on your lower teeth. One major difference between the two is that a mouth guard might last only for around 12 months but a mouth splint is meant to last for years. Otherwise, their function is just the same. The mouth splint is also customized to fit the size and shape of your teeth but is made from harder materials such as plastic - that’s why it lasts longer than a regular mouthguard.
- Orthodontic Treatment - Some patients with a teeth-grinding problem may have to get orthodontic treatment such as dental braces, especially if the teeth grinding causes misalignment of the teeth. In some cases, the dentist may recommend dental braces if the teeth grinding has resulted in TMJ also.
- Botox Injections - Some dentists also recommend the use of Botox injections in cases where other dental solutions have proven ineffective at reducing or eliminating teeth grinding. Botox injections are usually used as cosmetic treatments to reduce wrinkles in aging faces but it may be useful at stopping teeth grinding also.
- Regular Follow-up Check-ups - Your dentist may recommend that you come for more dental care sessions because the teeth grinding and related problems cannot be solved through just one session.
Additional Treatment for Teeth Grinding
- Psychotherapy - Since the underlying cause of teeth grinding could be psychological or emotional, sometimes your dentist may refer you to a psychologist for therapy. The psychologist will talk to you to determine the root causes of your teeth grinding such as being under a lot of stress at work or perhaps going through an emotional situation in your private life. The psychologist works in tandem with your dentist because the latter is only licensed to do dental procedures.
Sometimes it works the other way around - a patient might visit a psychologist for a personal reason then the psychologist will refer the patient to a dentist for the teeth grinding problem. Either way, the dentist and the psychologist will try to come up with solutions to prevent the teeth grinding from getting worse.
- Medication Prescribed by Psychiatrist - If the patient really has some deep-seated psychological problems that cause teeth grinding that need treatment with medication too, then the dentist or psychologist may refer the patient to a psychiatrist instead. A psychiatrist is actually a medical doctor so he can legally prescribe medication for emotional and psychological problems. A psychologist is not legally licensed to prescribe medication of any kind.
- NSAIDs - Your dentist may also prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve swelling of your jaw if you tend to clench it due to teeth grinding. If there is any pain, the NSAIDs will also address that.
- Relaxation Exercises - Since teeth grinding is sometimes caused by tension or anxiety due to various reasons, your psychotherapist (psychologist or psychiatrist) may also recommend you undertake some relaxation exercises so that your teeth grinding and jaw clenching will lessen or be stopped. One way to relax is to simply do stretching exercises for the entire body. Another way is to go to yoga sessions. Deep breathing is also good.
- Practice Self Care - Your doctors may also ask you to do some self-care so that you can help to cut out the teeth grinding on your own. You could exercise after you get home from your job because some patients may respond to this. You might try taking a warm bath for an hour before sleeping, because this may help tense muscles relax more. Try your best to have good sleeping conditions if you can so that you won’t be anxious as you sleep - this means wearing comfortable clothing and maintaining a normal temperature in your bedroom.
- Reducing Overall Stress - If you are under a lot of stress at work or in your personal life, you may have to remove some stressors that serve as triggers of teeth grinding. So you might have to look for a less stressful job or avoid people who stress you out, for starters. Your psychologist will help you identify these triggers and come up with therapies that will help eliminate the teeth grinding.
Don’t Hesitate To Approach Your Dentist
Teeth grinding is more common than you may think because many people grind their teeth without being conscious of it. However, sometimes teeth grinding becomes a major problem for some because they may do it to the point that problems develop. Some common problems caused or related to teeth grinding are biting your tongue, biting your cheeks, cracked or worn-down teeth, misaligned teeth, loss of teeth, problems with the jaw such as temporomandibular joint disease and swelling, headaches, and even earaches.
If you develop problems due to teeth grinding, you may have to seek help from a dentist. The dentist can recommend certain treatments for you such as cosmetic dentistry, mouth guards or mouth splints, and even orthodontic treatment, depending on the degree of damage that the teeth grinding has done and may cause in the future. Botox injections are one treatment you may look into if your teeth grinding still doesn’t stop after going through the other prescribed treatments. You should also visit your dentist regularly to see if there is progress in your oral care.
Don’t forget to practice self-care strategies too because you can help reduce the teeth grinding to a certain extent. Some ways you can practice self-care are taking a warm bath at night and wearing comfortable clothes to sleep in.
In addition, your dentist may refer you to a psychologist and/or psychiatrist for complementary treatment such as psychotherapy and medication. This may be necessary if the teeth grinding seems to be caused by the patient’s deeper personal problems. The good news though is that there are still some medical professionals who may be able to help patients who want to stop their teeth grinding and live a more normal life.