Some people do it to relieve stress. Others do it because of the way their teeth fit together. Some do it when they’re awake. Others do it while they are asleep. For whatever reason, and no matter when you do it, “bruxing” or habitual clenching or grinding your upper and lower teeth together can lead to serious complications.
With no food to absorb the impact, and no conscience to exert control, nocturnal teeth-grinding is powerful enough to crack a walnut – the pressure can be ten times the force registered during normal chewing. It also impacts the teeth at odd angles, making it especially destructive: and it can last all night. The results can be horrifying. Some front teeth can be worn down nearly to the gum line.Teeth can fracture or develop hairline cracks that will cause toothache but can be difficult to locate and treat. All the grinding and clenching can cause migraine like headaches and nagging muscle soreness as well, and it is a major contributor to more severe temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
TMJ disorders involve complications with the way the jaw muscles, bones and ligaments work together.
There are several treatments available for bruxism. These include special splints or bite plates. Depending on what time you generally do the majority of your bruxing, your dentist will design the appliance to be worn during sleep or at various times during the day.
Malocclusion, a problem with the way your teeth fit together when the mouth is closed, can trigger persistent tooth clenching. If bruxing is aggravated by a malocclusion, the problem can often be successfully treated with braces or other dental procedures such as adjusting the teeth causing the problem.
If you habitually clench or grind your teeth you should consult your dentist.