Most people don’t realize that they grind their teeth, yet between 5-20% of Americans suffer from bruxism. A large number grind their teeth during the night, while asleep. Others do it during the day.
Teeth grinding can be very detrimental to your teeth. It wears down the enamel, which exposes the softer parts of the teeth. Tooth decay can be quick to follow if you’re not careful. In addition, it can be very painful to grind your teeth.
Why You Grind Your Teeth
There are a few reasons you might grind your teeth. Children and teens are more likely to do it, during the day or at night. This could be caused by stress or emotional problems, or it could mean that the child’s teeth are not properly aligned.
It’s best to help your child stop grinding now, before his adult teeth come in. Wear and tear to permanent teeth is not reversible and could end up being quite expensive to repair.
In adults, stress is one of the most common factors in bruxism. It is also possible that your teeth are improperly aligned, particularly if you didn’t have proper dental care as a child.
Signs You May Suffer From Bruxism
Though you may not be sure if you are grinding your teeth at night, you may notice symptoms. If you wake up with a headache or pain in your cheeks or ears, you could be grinding.
Ask your partner to listen at night and see if you are grinding. Your dentist may also notice your teeth wearing down faster than they should. If you suspect that you may suffer from bruxism, make sure you see a dentist.
Children are usually more obvious about grinding. You will probably hear them doing it, either awake or asleep. It is very common for small children to grind their teeth as new teeth are coming in. You should also be aware that ear pain can be a symptom in children. If your little one is complaining of ear pain, but does not have an ear infection, the pain may be the result of bruxism.
Bruxism is preventable with the right tools. You can talk to a dentist about using a dental guard to prevent the teeth from touching. While you can purchase these over-the-counter and boil them to fit, it’s usually best to have one custom made. Another option, particularly for young people is to use Invisalign Teen guards. These are clear pieces customized to fit your mouth. They can be used to straighten your teeth, but also protect from grinding wear.
You can also work on treating the underlying problem. If you are stressed out, look into relaxation methods. Children may need parental help to deal with their stresses and anxiety. In some cases, therapy may be helpful for both adults and children.
If you are a grinder, take measures to stop now, before you ruin your teeth. See a dentist about the problem to figure out what you can do about it. You will also need to repair any serious damage that may have been done.
Marissa Mayer is a retired dental technician and avid blogger. You can find her informative articles mainly on health and dental blog sites.