Enjoying Better Dental Checkups

Why Is Grinding Your Teeth Such A Big Deal?

Do you grind your teeth at night or perhaps even during the day when you're feeling stressed or anxious? You may have heard this is bad for your teeth but shrugged it off. However, the truth is grinding your teeth really is something you need to be concerned about. Here's why.

What damage can grinding your teeth cause?

The outer layer of your teeth, known as the enamel, is pretty strong. It will survive years of chewing on peanuts, crackers, and other hard foods. But all of these foods are softer than enamel. When you're grinding your teeth, you are essentially "chewing" a surface that's just as hard as the enamel itself -- the enamel of the other tooth. As a result, the enamel on your teeth gets worn down. These thin spots are more prone to cavities and decay.

When you grind your teeth, you are also at risk for cracking your enamel. Cracks in the enamel are a prime harboring point for bacteria. Let them linger in the crack for a few months, and before you know it, you'll either need a filling or find yourself dealing with a toothache as the bacteria work their way deeper into your tooth. If the bacteria cause too much decay and infection, you may need to have a root canal or have the tooth extracted.

How can you fight tooth grinding?

If you want to avoid the types of damage caused by grinding your teeth, your best bet is to stop grinding ASAP. This is often easier said than done since grinding is an addictive habit (much like biting your nails). Here are a few strategies that can help:

  • Carry around a stress ball, and squeeze it whenever you feel the urge to grind your teeth

  • Chew sugar-free gum throughout the day to keep your mouth busy

  • Take measures to reduce the stress in your life, such as signing up for yoga classes or meditating

Additionally, you should have your dentist measure your mouth and make you a custom mouth guard. Wear this to bed; it will prevent you from subconsciously grinding your teeth at night.

If you've been grinding your teeth for a few months or years, make an appointment at a dental clinic like Milner Dentistry for a checkup. The dentist can look over your teeth and be sure any decay or spots of enamel erosion are detected and cared for as soon as possible. This could mean the difference between fixing the problem with a filling and needing an extraction a year or two down the road.