“No, that can’t be right. If I was grinding my teeth, I’d surely know it.”
This is actually a fairly common response from patients when we tell them that their teeth show extreme signs of wear. It’s an understandable statement, of course. How could you possibly grind your teeth and not hear that grating, gravelly sound that sets your teeth on edge? It happens more than you might think, says Dr. Ryan Hussong at Cornerstone Dental. Dr. Hussong, who treats teeth grinding in Polk City, IA, points out that most patients who grind their teeth do so while sleeping. If nobody is there to hear the sounds and complain, you might never know one way or another.
How Does Daytime Grinding Differ From Nocturnal Bruxism?
Daytime grinding and clenching of the jaw is usually stress-related. Because others may hear the noise, you will most likely be aware that you are doing it. The most effective treatment, then, involves avoiding or managing emotional stress before it adversely impacts your oral health. For example, you might practice deep breathing techniques, meditation, or yoga. Better time management and organization skills can be useful for stress related to work or school.
Nighttime grinding, or nocturnal bruxism, is more common but proves more difficult to treat because it usually occur as the result of stress. Disorders of the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, are the most prevalent cause of teeth grinding. You have two TMJs, one on each side of your jaw. Each connects your lower jaw to your skull. A healthy TMJ moves in many directions, enabling you to open your mouth to speak, yawn, and eat. If the muscles, joints, or jawbone that comprise your whole jaw are somehow compromised, the jaw cannot move or function properly.
There is no single cause of TMJ disorders. The most common problems stem from:
- Heavily damaged teeth due to grinding, causing an imbalanced bite
- Structural problems or deformities of the jaw or supporting structure
- A misaligned jaw
- Injury to the face or jaw
How Does Dr. Hussong Treat TMJ Disorders?
After assessing the extent of damage to your teeth, Dr. Hussong will begin with a physical examination of your jaw, including digital x-rays. He will measure your bite and note the position of your jaw. If a severe deformity or structural issue is to blame, he may refer you to a specialist. However, this is rarely the case. The most common treatment plan includes a combination of behavioral changes and a specially fitted oral splint to hold the jaw in place.
If your teeth have sustained severe damage, such as breaks, cracks, or flattening, Dr. Hussong may recommend restorative or cosmetic dentistry. For example, bonding or porcelain veneers can mask minor chips and cracks. If a large portion of the tooth has been compromised, you may require dental crowns to restore its function and appearance. However, neglecting to wear your oral splint or address the underlying problem means that your restorations may eventually become damaged, too.
Protect your teeth and jaw from the effects of grinding. To learn more about treatment, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We are pleased to serve patients living in Alleman, Ankeny, Ames, Grimes, Urbandale, and the surrounding communities.