Bruxism: a bad habit that can cause serious damage

by Dr. Michael Furey • Over the years, I’ve seen countless instances of oral health issues caused by bad habits. Certain habits, such as infrequent or improper tooth brushing, are entirely controllable, assuming the patient makes a commitment to change.

Other habits are not so easy to change. Often it’s because these habits occur involuntarily. Such is the case with bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding or teeth clenching.

Chronic bruxism affects an estimated 30% or more of the adult population. It can happen anytime during the day, but it is most prevalent during sleep. Unfortunately, bruxism comes with potentially serious consequences, including excessively worn or fractured teeth, jaw or facial pain (commonly called TMD, or temporomandibular dysfunction), recession of the gums and deterioration of the root surfaces (known as abfraction). In extreme cases, the teeth can wear down to the gum line.

While the cause is often unknown, it is believed that many individuals develop bruxism
over time as a result of their response to stress. Some studies suggest that bruxism originates in the central nervous system, and newer research indicates a correlation with
sleep disorders.

Early intervention is crucial

Whatever the cause of bruxism, early intervention is crucial. If it’s diagnosed and treated early enough, there may be no need to restore or repair damaged teeth. The problem is,
many people simply do not realize they’re “bruxers” until they experience pain and/or
extensive damage to their teeth.

Besides any needed restoration or repair work, the treatment of bruxism usually involves the use of a protective bite guard to wear during sleep. For bruxism that occurs during waking hours, individuals usually can find relief through behavior modification therapy.

If you suspect clenching or grinding of the teeth, please talk to your dentist as soon as
possible. As I stated earlier, the sooner you get help, the less likely you are to suffer
damage to your teeth.Contact Furey Dental Group with your concerns about bruxism or any other condition affecting your oral health. Call us at  651-490-9011, or click here to request an appointment.

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