When you think of all the different ways to cope with stress, some seem more innocent than others. We all know that smoking increases your risk of lung and mouth cancer, but what about something as simple as grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw? Surely it couldn’t be too terribly destructive? Don’t be so sure, says Dr. Ryan Hussong of Cornerstone Dental. Even though teeth grinding, also called bruxism, won’t cause cancer, the habit causes long-term damage to your teeth and jaw. Dr. Hussong explains that seeking timely treatment for teeth grinding in Polk City, IA could save time, money, and your teeth in the long run.
Patients who grind their teeth typically do so at night or during the daytime, but rarely both. Daytime grinding is most commonly linked to feelings of stress and anxiety. Nocturnal bruxism, or nighttime teeth grinding, occurs most frequently as the result of a bad bite or problem with the jaw. If your teeth or jaw are improperly aligned, a condition called malocclusion, the jaws do not fit together as they should. Temporomandibular joint disorders affect your TMJs, the joints on either side of your head that connect your lower jaw to your skull. As a result, pressure caused by chewing is unequally distributed among your teeth, with some forced to bear more than others. This has several consequences for your oral health, and not all are reversible.
Consequence: Chips and Cracks
As teeth are weakened by grinding and undue force, they become less resistant to damages caused by chewing hard foods, accidents, and aging. If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, Dr. Hussong may recommend porcelain veneers or dental bonding to address cosmetic problems. He notes, however, that bonding and veneers cannot withstand severe teeth grinding. Your best bet is to treat the cause of your teeth grinding, otherwise you will require further restorative procedures.
Consequence: Fractures and Tooth Loss
A tooth that is broken in half or mostly knocked out will require more intensive treatment. Dr. Hussong often uses dental crowns to restore function and appearance to severely damaged teeth. If the tooth is too badly damaged to salvage, extraction may be unavoidable. Following an extraction, you must replace your missing tooth to avoid further consequences for your oral health. Dental implants, partial dentures, and dental bridges are all viable options for replacing a lost or missing tooth.
Consequence: Jaw Pain
The act of grinding your teeth causes pain that radiates from the jaw to your neck, face, and even your shoulders. Patients report more frequent occurrences of migraines and headaches, and others experience symptoms similar to those of ear aches and sinus infections. This makes diagnosing the problem tricky, as many patients seek help from general physicians before visiting their Polk City, IA dentist. If Dr. Hussong determines that your discomfort is the result of a TMJ disorder or teeth grinding, he may advise wearing a specially fitted oral splint while you sleep. This eases your jaw into its proper position while protecting your back teeth from the harmful effects of grinding.
Give up the grind. If you have questions about teeth grinding or restorative dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Alleman, Ankeny, Ames, West Des Moines, and around the 50226 zip code.