Grinding and Clenching Teeth

Most people probably grind or clench their teeth from time to time. The medical term for this is ‘bruxism’. Not everyone suffers harm from bruxism. If however you have a ‘heavy’ bite and you grind and clench your teeth regularly, you risk damaging vulnerable teeth by wearing them down or even cracking or breaking the tooth structure.

If you are at risk of damaging your teeth from bruxism, Dr Mark Peddey is likely to recommend the wearing of a custom made night splint – A mouth guard to wear at night time. If you have damaged your teeth already it is important that the degree of damage is assessed and arrested with the correct treatment immediately. Cracked or broken teeth damaged from bruxing may be treated with:

How It Starts

Bruxism is commonly caused be caused by stress and anxiety and often occurs during sleep. People with missing or crooked teeth or who have an abnormal bite are commonly heavy bruxers.

How It Can Affect Teeth

Clenching and grinding will wear down the enamel of the tooth and possibly expose the softer dentine which can cause sensitivity. Heavy grinding and clenching can result in a cracked or broken tooth.

Not only can severe grinding damage your teeth but in some people it can cause headaches, tempro-mandibular joint pain and changes to the muscular structure of your face.

Treating The Damage

In most instances teeth damaged from bruxing can be restored and strengthened with onlays and crowns or veneers. If the nerve has been damaged a root canal treatment will be necessary. Sometimes the damage to the root of the tooth can be such that the tooth cannot be saved and you will need to consider having an implant crown or a bridge.

What Can I Do To Stop Grinding My Teeth?

If you suspect that you may be grinding your teeth you need to talk to Dr Mark Peddey. He will examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism such as jaw tenderness and evidence of wear of your teeth. You will need to be provided with a splint to protect your teeth from further damage at night time. Wearing this splint may also help relieve tempro-mandibular joint pain during the day.

Identification of the original cause of your bruxing is important. If you have a bite that is aggravating this condition you may need to consider treatment to improve this situation. This may include orthodontic care or restorations to a number of your teeth.

If you have chronic pain elsewhere in your body this may need to be treated with physiotherapy, medicine or surgery. Anxiety and mental stress may need referral to a stress counsellor or you starting an exercise program.

Other tips to help you stop bruxing include:

  • Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
  • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.