Stress & Oral Habits

Tooth wear.Teeth grinding and clenching are common habits, but that doesn't mean they are harmless. Stress from the powerful forces generated by grinding and clenching (also known as “bruxing”) can wear down teeth or even loosen them. Teeth that have enamel worn away or scraped off from this repeated rubbing action may become sensitive to hot or cold. And dental work such as crowns and fillings may get damaged. Bruxism can also lead to jaw pain and/or headaches.

At Smith Family Dentistry in Charleston, WV, we work with patients to avoid bruxism and the harmful effects of teeth grinding. Many patients may not even realize that they are a bruxer because teeth grinding normally takes place at night. This is why it is crucial to visit your general dentistry in Charleston, WV every six months for regular checkups. Should we notice any teeth grinding, we will certainly let you know. We will also try to help you break the habit, relieve any pain you are experiencing, and repair any damage to your teeth or dental work.

Why Do We Grind or Clench Our Teeth?

The most common reason for grinding/clenching habits is stress, which can affect our health in various ways. Some people experience stomach pain or skin breakouts; bruxing is yet another manifestation. Sometimes people grind their teeth because of misaligned teeth or other bite problems. Using stimulating substances such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs can also put you at risk. Additionally, teeth grinding is believed to be an uncommon side effect of certain medications.

Treating Bruxism

Sometimes simply becoming aware of the habit can help you to get it under control. If stress is the issue, try to find healthy ways of managing it: exercise, meditation, listening to relaxing music, or a warm bath may help. Our dentist in Charleston, WV will monitor your teeth over time to see if the problem is getting better or worsening.

Custom nightguard.

Damage: If damage to your teeth or existing dental work is evident, Smith Family Dentistry in WV may recommend a custom-made night guard, also known as an “occlusal guard,” which is a device that resembles an athletic mouthguard. Made of comfortable plastic, the guard is worn at night to keep your teeth from actually contacting each other. It also helps protect your jaw joints from excessive force.

Bite Adjustment: If a bite problem exists where some teeth are hitting before the others (all of your teeth should hit at the same time), we may treat it by removing a tiny bit of enamel from an individual tooth that is sticking up a bit (and therefore receiving too much force) to bring it in line with the others. This is known as a bite adjustment. If your malocclusion (bad bite) is more serious, orthodontics might be recommended. Replacing any teeth that are missing can also help stabilize your bite by inhibiting the shifting of teeth that occurs when extra space is left open by missing teeth.

Children: Teeth grinding is very common in children, especially when they are shedding their baby teeth. Since they often outgrow it, treatment is not usually recommended. Please let our dentist in Charleston, WV know if you have any questions about the effects of grinding on your child's teeth or on your own.

Contact Smith Family Dentistry in Charleston, WV Today!

If you are worried about your own or your child’s teeth grinding, please contact our general dentistry in Charleston, WV. Our dentist and staff will be more than happy to evaluate your bruxism and discuss different options to alleviate your symptoms. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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