Teeth Grinding: The Causes of Bruxism and Options for Treatment By Tim Kelly, DMD, PA on January 09, 2015

A man smiling outsideDr. Timothy M. Kelly provides patients in and around Albuquerque with excellent restorative dentistry focused on improving dental health and total wellness. This includes treating tooth decay and gum disease as well as more advanced dental health issues such as tooth grinding (aka bruxism). Since many people have misconceptions about tooth grinding, we'd like to consider the causes of the condition and some ideal treatment options.

About Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding refers to the clenching, gnashing, grinding, and shifting of the teeth during sleep. This can go on for a long period of time without a person noticing, though it can have a negative impact on your dental health as well as your general wellness.

Common Causes of Teeth Grinding

There are two common causes of teeth grinding:

  • Stress and Anxiety - If you are under a lot of stress, it can cause you to grind your teeth at night. It is sometimes a symptom of various disorders related to anxiety or worry.

  • Poor Dental Alignment (Malocclusion) - When your teeth are not properly aligned, your teeth are likely to shift, grind, or move in order to find a more comfortable rest position. Since no comfortable rest position is available, the grinding will persist.

What happens if teeth grinding goes untreated?

Early signs and symptoms of teeth grinding include sore teeth, sore gums, jaw pain, headaches, and earaches. With time, the teeth grinding can cause damage to the teeth and even gum recession. Major chips and cracks can lead to more serious problems down the road.

Given the stress and strain on the jaw joint, teeth grinding can also lead to a TMJ disorder, which refers to any kind of issue with the function of the jaw joint. This includes grinding, locking, popping, and clicking of the jaw.

Mouth Guards to Treat Teeth Grinding

Treating teeth grinding generally requires a combination of approaches. The most common part of teeth grinding treatment is the use of a mouth guard. Mouth guards are protective retainers that are worn when a patient sleeps. The mouth guard will prevent direct contact between the teeth of the upper dental ridge and the teeth of the lower dental ridge, reducing the amount of damage that can be done from grinding. The mouth guard also helps reduce the stress on the jaw joint, which makes it key for treating TMJ disorders as well.

Orthodontic Care to Treat Teeth Grinding

Since crooked teeth are a common cause of teeth grinding, a orthodontic care is a common treatment option to consider. Improving dental alignment means reducing the chances of grinding that occurs during sleep. Adult braces or more advanced orthodontic therapies may be ideal for you and your needs.

Stress Management to Treat Teeth Grinding

Since stress and anxiety can lead to teeth grinding, a variety of stress management techniques may be considered to reduce the severity of your problem. This could mean breathing exercises, meditation, stretching, or even a better exercise regimen. This approach tends to be aimed at enhancing total wellness.

Speak with Dr. Timothy M. Kelly

For more information about your options for advanced dental care, it's important that you contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. By meeting with Dr. Kelly, you will receive ample information about all of your options for treatment.

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Dr. Timothy M. Kelly

Timothy M. Kelly, DMD, PA

Timothy M. Kelly, DMD, PA, has been in practice in Albuquerque, NM, since 1981. He provides a wide range of cosmetic, restorative, and general dental services, with a special emphasis on the treatment of TMJ disorder. Some of our most popular services include:

To request an appointment with Dr. Kelly, please fill out our online form or call (505) 256-1770.

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"We believe that every patient has infinite worth and should be treated with dignity and respect. We are dedicated to educating, creating awareness, and empowering people to make treatment choices that are consistent with their own beliefs, needs and desires." Dr. Tim Kelly

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