Recovering from Neck Pain

Don't Be Blind To The Grind: Why Teeth Grinding Is Dangerous

by Janet Burns

The problems your teeth can experience from grinding them together won't be immediate. The damage slowly creeps up over the years, progressively getting worse until the biting surfaces of your teeth are actually rubbed away. As your teeth lose structure, they will become more sensitive and will be far more vulnerable to decay. How can a local dental clinic help?

Regular Checkups

They'll help by actually pointing out the problem—or they will if you regularly attend your checkups. The erosion of the biting surfaces of your teeth is obvious to a dental professional, and they may be the one who first notices the problem. They'll also look for a reason why it's happening.

Why You Might Be Grinding

People grind their teeth for many reasons. The condition is called bruxism, and it can even be caused by stress. Some people may find the issue to be self-correcting once they better manage their stress, or the causes of stress are removed. Dentists can't help much with stress, but they'll look for other causes. Tooth decay, oral infections and general misalignment of your bite—these can all lead to someone involuntarily changing the set of their jaw, grinding their teeth together. In short, if a dentist can spot a physical reason why your teeth may be grinding together, they'll correct it.

Quite a Manageable Condition

Much of managing bruxism is actually correcting the damage caused by your grinding. Sometimes, the precise cause can be a mystery, but this isn't as hopeless as it sounds. Once the physical damage inflicted by grinding is solved, the overall condition can be quite manageable. For starters, a dentist will need to restore any biting surfaces of teeth that have been ground away.

Restoring Lost Tooth Structure

There are numerous ways to restore lost tooth structure. Dental bonding (applying the tooth-coloured cement used to fill cavities) to rebuild the tooth's surface is the easiest option. For teeth that must withstand an increased amount of bite pressure, dental bonding may not be strong enough. A dentist might suggest a dental crown to fully cap the tooth, reinforcing it by placing a porcelain shell around the tooth. An onlay is also possible, and this is a porcelain reconstruction of the tooth's biting surface, which will be permanently cemented onto the tooth.

Teeth that have been ground away will not repair themselves. That lost tooth structure must be replaced by your dentist before your symptoms worsen.