Many times we tell people that they are grinding their teeth at night and they really don't believe us. Many times they will outright say that " they are not grinding their teeth!" I think they would like to ad that "by the way Doc.. I think you are nuts!"
I understand where they are coming from. I would think it is a little weird too. Nothing bothers me and nobody has ever mentioned it to me so how could I be grinding? I mean, I would know!!!
Well here is the thing, when your dentist looks at your teeth we see things that you don't. When we look at your back teeth and we see that these teeth are flat when they should have hills and valleys, we know you are grinding. When we can see the yellow dentin layer of your teeth and there is no more outer white enamel layer then we know you have ground away the enamel of your teeth.
From regular eating, it would take about 100 years to grind away 1 mm of tooth structure. In patients who grind we see mm's of tooth structure missing. Patients who grind their teeth can be any age. From children to teenagers to the elderly. Even in young teenagers we can see a large amount of tooth structure missing. Sometimes people hear us grinding, sometimes no one hears us. All this grinding is done while we sleep. This tooth grinding is called Bruxism.
Why do we grind? There are a number of theories but I haven't seen a definitive answer that I can give you yet.
By the way, many people do know that they grind because in the morning they wake up and their jaw is sore or perhaps they have pain in their joint or perhaps their teeth are tender or perhaps they wake with headaches.
So what do we do for people who grind their teeth? In general, we fabricate a Nightguard. This is a plastic guard that you wear at night so that you grind on the plastic and not on your teeth. This will preserve your tooth structure and relieve the pressure on your muscles of mastication and your temporomandibular joint (jaw joint)! This usually gives relief from sore muscles of the jaw and headaches that occur as a result of the grinding.
If any of this sounds familiar and you have some questions then discuss it with your dentist. or leave a comment on the blog and I will answer any question you may have.
All the best
Dr. Ron Barzilay
enjoying dentistry in Hamilton Ontario!!