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Don’t Let Teeth Grinding Ruin Your Smile

Don’t Let Teeth Grinding Ruin Your Smile

As a dentist in northeast Denver, our team at Northfield Family Dental has seen an increase in patients experiencing grinding and teeth clenching since the pandemic first began.

The symptoms of teeth clenching or grinding (also referred to as bruxing) can include experiencing discomfort in your gums and teeth, as well as the muscles and joints of your jaw. The discomfort caused by chronic grinding can seriously impact your daily life and make eating, drinking, and talking difficult.

If you experience jaw pain for no clear reasons; wake up with your teeth aching and a headache; or have noticed your teeth looking flatter, you may unconsciously grind your teeth, especially at night when asleep.

Patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaws need to seek treatment from their dentist in northeast Denver at Northfield Family Dental. Without treatment, you risk seriously damaging your long-term oral health. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about grinding and clenching your jaw and teeth.

A Subconscious Problem

The bottom and top rows of your teeth are only designed to meet when needed, i.e. when biting and chewing.  If your teeth only meet when eating, you only should spend a small portion of your day chewing.

How are your teeth aligned right now as you read this? Subconsciously, have you positioned your teeth and jaw together. Do you feel tension in the joints of your jaw or along the sides of your face? Assuming you’re not eating at the moment, your jaw should be relaxed and the top and bottom rows of your teeth should be separated, regardless of whether your mouth and lips are shut.

By grinding and clenching more often than necessary, the teeth can become worn down over time, and the muscles of your jaw can become tight and fatigued.

The joints of your jaw – also known as the temporomandibular joints – that attach the lower portion of the jaw to the skull contain a disk, which helps to control how the joint of your jaw moves. This disk can become dislocated or distorted, which can lead to clicking, reduced function, and severe discomfort.

What Causes Grinding?

Stress ranks as one of the major contributing factors behind subconscious jaw and teeth clenching. Considering the strain caused by the pandemic, it’s little wonder that our dentist in northeast Denver has started seeing so many patients experiencing this issue.

Whether concerned over work, health, or family, it’s not uncommon to internalize that stress to manifest a grinding or clenching problem.

Fortunately, regular dental check-ups can help to reveal the signs of clenching and grinding. These signs can manifest as cracked fillings and teeth, worn crowns, and sore jaw muscles.

When identified, patients can begin to receive the types of treatments they need to address their individual problem.

If you grind your teeth at night, you might wake up the next day with sore jaw joints, teeth, or a headache. Our dentist can address these issues by fitting you with a bite guard so that you don’t continue to grind your teeth while asleep. A bite guard helps to protect your teeth by preventing the friction that occurs due to grinding that can wear down tooth enamel and strain the muscles along the jaw.

If you experience issues relating to a sore jaw due to grinding or clenching, we recommend avoiding any type of unnecessary chewing. Gum, for example, repeatedly stresses the areas of the mouth used for chewing, as does eating overly chewy foods like bagels, thick breads, steak, and certain types of candy.

Addressing the Underlying Issue

While our team at Northfield Family Dental can help to treat the symptoms of grinding, the underlying cause of the issue must also be addressed.

Patients need to identify and address the stressors which may serve as the underlying cause behind their grinding. For many patients, teeth grinding can disappear after they address and manage whatever issue has contributed to their increased stress levels.

No matter the cause behind your grinding, our team at Northfield Family Dental is here to help. We will provide the type of compassionate and individualized care you need to restore your smile back to health.

Don’t let teeth grinding destroy your smile. Contact our team today.

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