## This tooth damaging habit is more widespread than you might think

It is thought that around six million people in the UK grind their teeth to some degree. In the majority of cases, this is related to stress, and there is every likelihood that this is on the increase if you keep abreast of the news on a daily basis. Despite this, little attention is often paid to this problem which can cause significant damage to our teeth. Perhaps some of the reason for this is that it tends to happen when we are asleep and is therefore more difficult to control.

This problem will inevitably affect some patients of your Canterbury dental clinic, and with this in mind, today’s blog will focus on the possible causes, symptoms and treatments that relate to this often unacknowledged problem.

### Causes

As indicated above, by far the most likely cause for grinding your teeth (also known as ‘bruxism’) is stress and anxiety. Modern society has probably not helped this matter and being always available and having constant access to (usually bad) news really can’t have helped.

Stress and anxiety are not the only possible causes though. Others include an abnormal bite, medicines which may affect the nervous system and even sleep apnea and some other health conditions.

As you can see, and especially given the fact that it often occurs while we sleep, teeth grinding can be very difficult to both monitor and control. It is possible that we may not even be aware that we have this habit but there are a few warning signs that we should look out for.

### Symptoms

As we often grind our teeth when we are asleep, we are unlikely to notice that we are doing so. There are, however, a few things to look out for which might indicate we have this problem. If you wake up in the morning and notice that your jaw feels painful or sore, it is quite possible that this might be the reason. Similarly, headaches, neck discomfort or earache might indicate that the problem exists.

Finally, if you grind your teeth regularly, you are likely to notice some dental issues. These include cracked, broken or chipped teeth and possibly tooth sensitivity. Naturally, you should contact Bradley and Partners Dental & Implant Clinic for an appointment if you notice any of these signs. You should not wait until the problem becomes more significant, and quite possibly painful, before you contact us and should do so straight away.

### Treatments

There are no ‘miracle cures’ for bruxism but there are a few things that might help.

Mouthguards or splints can be used to prevent your teeth from grinding together. These can be effective, though some people find them uncomfortable to wear when they go to bed. This might be trial and error to see if these work for you. Botox injections can also sometimes help to relax the jaw muscles to reduce the severity of any grinding. Some medications are also available although these tend to be given only in more extreme circumstances.

Given the fact that one of the main cause of this issue is stress and anxiety, addressing this is likely to help resolve the problem. If you can change your situation to reduce your stress levels, this is likely to help quite a lot. Of course, this isn’t always possible and stress management methods such as relaxation exercises or mediation can be a great help to some. Finally, don’t underestimate the benefits of going for a walk in the fresh air. Many people find that this helps to reduce stress and the exercise will be beneficial for your general health too.

From an oral health perspective, there are a number of things that we can do at our Canterbury dental practice to help you. First of all, by ensuring that you have a check up every six months, we can monitor your mouth and detect possible signs that you are grinding or clenching your teeth and address this accordingly. Where damage has already been done, there are a number of treatment options available.

### Fillings and composite bonding

These can be used to repair damage that has been caused by the coming together of our teeth, often with force. These are likely to be used in relatively minor cases.

### Veneers

Porcelain veneers can be useful in the restoration of chipped or cracked teeth. As with most dental treatments though, you will benefit from this most once the problem has been resolved, although some treatment may need to be carried out to prevent pain and discomfort even when you are still suffering from this problem.

### Crowns

A crown may be attached to a tooth when it has become badly broken. Although most damage caused by this action tends to be less severe, broken and shattered teeth can, and do, happen if the grinding is very severe.

### Dental implants

Teeth that have become very badly damaged through grinding may no longer be fit for purpose and may have a poor prognosis. In this case, it may be better to extract the tooth and replace it with a denture or dental implant. We have discussed the pros and cons of each in previous blogs, but in a nutshell, implants offer a stronger, more secure and long lasting solution for a lost tooth.

If you have concerns that you might be grinding your teeth and would like to discuss this with a dentist, please contact Bradley and Partners Dental & Implant Clinic to make an appointment at a convenient time. You can do so by calling our friendly reception team on **01227 463529**.

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