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Are You Grinding Your Teeth? Here’s Why You Should Stop

Do you grind your teeth when you sleep? Or, have you caught yourself grinding them when you feel stressed or upset? Unfortunately, grinding your teeth can damage your oral health in many ways.

The good news is, there are things you can do to stop it. Hannah Baek, DDS, of Healthy Smile Dental in Woodridge, Illinois, is an expert in diagnosing teeth grinding and helping patients kick the habit. In this blog, Dr. Baek explains why teeth grinding can occur, why it’s unhealthy, and what you can do to put an end to it.

Potential causes of bruxism 

The medical name for grinding your teeth is bruxism, and though it can have a number of causes, a common one is having an abnormal bite. Your bite, or occlusion, is the way your upper and lower teeth come together at rest. 

If your teeth are crooked, it can interfere with a proper bite. If your teeth don’t meet correctly, it’s called a malocclusion. Your upper teeth may come too far forward, which is called an overbite, or your lower teeth may jut forward in front of your upper teeth, which is called an underbite. A crossbite is when some of the upper teeth sit behind or inside the lower teeth. 

Other causes for teeth grinding can include stress, medications and other substances, a family history of the condition, and certain medical disorders.

The negative effects of bruxism 

Unfortunately, bruxism can cause great damage to your oral health. Over time, grinding your teeth can wear them down. Furthermore, teeth grinding puts enormous pressure on your teeth. This pressure can cause chips and cracks to develop, and it can even cause teeth to loosen. 

Also, this pressure can overtax your temporomandibular joints, which are the hinge joints that allow you to open and close your mouth. Over time, this can lead to jaw and face pain. It could even change the structure of your face eventually.

Bruxism can also wear out the enamel on teeth, increase tooth sensitivity, cause headaches, cause pain that feels like an earache, and cause sleep disruptions.

Treating bruxism

Invisalign® may be the best approach to correcting a malocclusion. If your teeth are properly aligned, you’ll be less likely to grind them. Aligners are a great option for straightening teeth, because they’re clear, removable, and don’t have the hassles of traditional braces. 

Another common treatment approach is using a mouthguard at night. A mouthguard protects your teeth by acting as a cushion and by preventing your top and bottom teeth from coming together. To get a mouthguard, Dr. Baek makes a mold of your mouth. Then, this mold is used to make your custom dental appliance.

If stress is the cause, you may want to consider learning stress-management techniques. Other methods could include cutting back on items that contain caffeine, avoiding alcohol, and trying bruxism exercises.

If you have bruxism and want treatment — or if you want to see if this condition is affecting you — we can help. To learn more, call 630-910-1900 or book an appointment online with Healthy Smile Dental today.

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