The causes and prevention of teeth grinding problems

Do you grind your teeth during the day? How about grinding them at night? If you do it can disturb your partner whilst they sleep, destroy your teeth and cause headaches, so it is worthwhile seeing if you can resolve this problem and stop your teeth grinding habits.

What causes teeth grinding?

Many studies have shown that in almost 70% of people that grind their teeth at night the cause is stress and anxiety, so the first question to ask yourself is are you under a considerable amount of stress at the moment and what can you do about it? Being stressed has a tendency to make you clench your teeth which results in unnecessary tooth grinding.

Another reason that people grind their teeth is due to various sleep disorders. People that suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea are more likely to grind their teeth, as are people that snore.

Finally, your lifestyle can affect whether you grind your teeth or not. If you drink consider amount of alcohol, smoke or use recreational drugs such as ecstasy, or cocaine. These can also increase your likelihood for grinding your teeth at night.

Jaw problems from teeth grinding

tooth grinding

The muscles around your face, head and neck are all interconnected. This means that if you grind your teeth not only will it affect your teeth themselves but it could also affect these interconnected muscles. This means that teeth grinding can result in head and neck pain and specifically headaches.

On top of creating jaw problems teeth grinding also severely affects your teeth. In extreme cases your teeth can become so worn down that they become sensitive during normal eating. As the teeth wear down it also affects the way your jaw works which can lead to further headaches and jaw joint problems.

Treatment for teeth grinding

Once you have identified what the cause is of your teeth grinding habit, it becomes easier to find a solution. Clearly if you are under stress it would be worth looking at stress reduction techniques such as relaxation or perhaps hypnosis, similarly, if you are drinking and excessive amounts of alcohol or taking recreational drugs then looking at reducing your intake of these substances will also help your teeth grinding.

Once you have done everything you can to tackle these causes of teeth grinding we can look at some dental alternatives.

Dental treatments for grinding

Jaw JointGenerally speaking, the way these dental treatments work is by preventing your teeth meeting. If we can do this it has the effect of reprogramming your jaw joint muscles as they are able to relax. Whenever your teeth meet your muscles have a memory ensuring that your teeth always meet in the same place, the problem is that as your teeth wear down this memory is different to the original place where your jaw used to meet when you were younger. This means that your muscles can be under constant tension forcing your teeth into their new worn down position.

By wearing a night guard and preventing your teeth from meeting your muscles have a chance to relax. What this means is that when you wake up in the morning you might find that your teeth don’t meet together like they would normally, this is because your muscles have been reprogrammed and have relaxed fully. If you needed to have your teeth treated with dental crowns or bridges then this is the ideal position in which these new dental bridges or crowns would be made.

This teeth grinding night guard works because your jaw is not a simple hinge, it is a complex arrangement of bones and muscles, which has a considerable amount of flexibility in the way it works.

The effects of these various teeth grinding guards is to reduce headaches, reduce jaw joint problems and prevent your teeth wearing down further.

What if teeth grinding has worn your teeth right down?

Unfortunately, if your teeth have been complaining worn down by excessive, teeth grinding over a number of years (similar to the photograph above) then it is only restorative dentistry that can provide the solution. In some instances it is possible to make a removable denture which fits over the top of your existing teeth. However, many patients disliked this due to the fact that they can take them out.

Dental crowns and bridges are therefore often the best option, we would normally use some form of dental Appliance to relax your jaw muscles and deprogrammed them first. Once that has been done we can then proceed to take records of the ideal relationship between your top and bottom jaw. These records can then be used to ensure that any new crowns and/or bridges are made to this correct bite relationship. This means that not only are your teeth restored to their former glory, but your jaw is reprogrammed back to how it was originally, thereby reducing any headaches and jaw joint problems.