Tooth grinding (otherwise known as bruxism) is something that we see in about 30% of patients. This high figure might lead you to think that grinding is normal, however it is not considered a normal process. It is a process that can destroy teeth, and is something that we are keen to address before it does too much damage. Some of the things we see occurring for patients grinding their teeth include:
Loss of Protective Enamel
Despite being the strongest material in the human body, the strength of the bite in some patients is enough to wear completely through the enamel, exposing the softer and more sensitive part of the teeth.
Reduction in Bite Height
Patients who grind their teeth a lot will often lose what we call ‘vertical dimension’. This means their teeth are getting shorter and shorter. This is important as it can not only eventually cause chewing problems, but it can be difficult to fix. It is much easier to catch the problem earlier and put in place simple measures.
Due to the pressure placed on the teeth from overloading, a tooth can fracture. If this split occurs down the root of the tooth, there is no option but to remove the tooth. If we can see and fix a crack early, we are often able to fix the problem without the patient needing to lose the tooth.
Damage to the Cheeks and Tongue
Grinding the teeth can cause some damage to the adjacent soft tissues including the cheeks and tongue. Over time, this can cause changes in the shape of these areas and is one of our key clues for whether a patient is grinding their teeth.
Some patients who grind their teeth describe jaw joint or muscle pain. The muscles in the face are just like the muscles elsewhere in the body. If they are over-worked, they can place pressure on the bones and ligaments, which can lead to functional problems. At times, this pain can be associated with neck pain or headaches and can interfere with normal daily functioning. For this reason, catching tooth grinding as early as possible can be an important step in avoiding or reducing jaw pain.
Our dentists will always look out for these issues when you have a check up, but if you notice anything suspicious, it is worth seeking a review to avoid the damaging effects that tooth grinding can have.
To book a consultation with Dr. Kate Amos or Dr. Sam Rosehill call 6652 3185 or book online.