Do you grind your teeth? It's estimated that more than 95% of all adults do at some point in their lives, but many have no idea, especially because most only grind their teeth while asleep. How do I know if you grind your teeth?
Occasional tooth grinding – known medically as bruxism – does not usually harm your teeth. However, when it occurs on a regular basis, teeth grinding can cause serious permanent damage. If you have been grinding your teeth for a while, your dentist will be able to tell, even if you do not bring up tooth grinding as a potential cause. Tooth grinding places repetitive pressure on the teeth, resulting in significantly more wear to the teeth than the daily activities of chewing would otherwise cause. In addition, because most people clench their jaw as they grind their teeth, this places significant pressure on the teeth, which can cause cracks to form.
The signs of bruxism include worn enamel or cracked teeth. Worn-down dental work on crowns or fillings is also seen in the mouths of Delray Beach patients who grind their teeth. Chronic bruxism can also cause the teeth to become loose or even to fall out. However, it is more common for severe teeth grinding to wear the teeth down, sometimes to the point where they require a crown or root canal because so much enamel has been lost. The tips of the teeth are typically worn flat in patients who grind their teeth. Many people who have been grinding their teeth for a lifetime have front teeth that are significantly shortened, along with back teeth that are broken or have required a crown, by the time they are in their 40s or 50s.
If you think you may be grinding your teeth, ask your dentist to look closely for signs of bruxism. The signs may be noticeable during a routine dental check-up even if there is not enough damage to require immediate repair. If caught early, preventive measures such as wearing a bite guard at night may be able to prevent further damage.
Finally, your Delray Beach dentist may suspect teeth grinding even if there is no visible evidence. Teeth grinding may be suspected if you have an abnormal bite; missing or crooked teeth are potential causes of tooth grinding. People with sensitive teeth may also be grinding their teeth; the lost enamel can cause extreme sensitivity to heat or cold. If you complain of a sore jaw, your dentist may suggest that teeth grinding could be the culprit, as this symptom is commonly caused by bruxism.