Stress-Induced Grinding of Teeth

 In Oral Health, Orthodontic Care, TMJ &TMD

If you’ve noticed that you clench your jaw a lot lately in stressful situations, you may think of it as just an annoyance. But if you clench often enough, and especially if you grind your teeth at night, you should really see your orthodontist for treatment. Here are three reasons why stress-induced grinding should be treated.

Irreversible Gum Recession

Putting constant pressure on your teeth by grinding and clenching can irritate your gums, which over time can cause them to recede little by little. That doesn’t sound like much of an emergency until you realize that once they’ve receded, the gums never grow back.

To make matters worse, receding gums also expose the roots of your teeth. Any exposed tooth roots are much more susceptible to cavities, since they aren’t protected by enamel.

Irritate Your TMJ

Everyone has a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on both sides of the jaw. When you grind or clench your teeth a lot, this joint could become inflamed and irritated in a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). This in turn causes pain and other issues such as limited range of movement.

TMJD can affect your life in more ways than you’d imagine; eating, singing, and even speaking could become painful. Fortunately, a great orthodontist can help treat TMJ problems. He or she can also work with you on reducing or eliminating any clenching and grinding that could cause or worsen TMJD.

Physically Damage Teeth

Because clenching and grinding wears down the chewing surfaces of your teeth, it can actually result in enamel loss over time. But in many cases, you won’t have to wait months or years to see the effects of tooth grinding on your dental health. Moderate to severe nighttime tooth grinding can crack, break, or chip your teeth. An orthodontist-fitted night guard can help cushion your teeth and protect them from this physical damage.

Jaw clenching and grinding may be worsened by stress but can have a variety of causes, some of which can be treated by an orthodontist. To get checked out for possible causes of tooth grinding (such as bite misalignment) or any consequences of tooth grinding (such as TMJ issues) that an orthodontist can treat, contact us today.

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