The ongoing impact of the COVID pandemic has had an effect on many patients’ dental health. We have seen an uptick in the signs of wear on teeth that indicate teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Thes habits put a lot of pressure on the teeth, gums, and jaw joints and often occur during sleep or without the knowledge of the patient. Bruxism, as teeth grinding is known clinically, can have some long-term and permanent effects on your smile if it goes untreated for a length of time. Are you grinding your teeth?
Teeth Grinding: what to look for
The signs of teeth grinding are typically difficult to spot until more extensive wear or damage has occurred. We screen for the early signs during your routine dental care visits. You may notice other symptoms if you are grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw regularly. These can include:
- Jaw pain or jaws that click or pop when opening
- Headaches, often in the morning and around the temples
- Ear or neck pain or a feeling of fullness in the ears
Occasionally a tooth may suddenly become chipped or cracked or a dental crown may come off unexpectedly. These can also be signs of teeth grinding and the result of pressure being placed on the teeth. If this occurs, a dental visit is the best way to resolve the problem and determine the underlying cause of your trauma.
Why am I grinding my teeth?
Patients often do not know why or when their bruxism began. Stress is often a trigger and can precipitate teeth grinding in your sleep. The continual stress and life changes that the pandemic has caused have led to an increase in bruxism and associated tooth wear.
Teeth grinding is also a common sign of an underlying bite problem or TMJ disorder. When the teeth are not properly aligned, it can lead to tension in the jaw joints and teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw. A bite problem can also cause the same symptoms mentioned above including jaw pain and radiating discomfort.
Whatever the cause, seeking treatment for teeth grinding is the key to avoiding permanent damage. Our dental care team can fit you with a nightguard that will prevent teeth grinding and allow your jaw joints to relax.