Michael Meshnick, DDS, discusses the dangers and unseen trauma that occurs for those who may be grinding their teeth while asleep
Wappingers Falls, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/31/2014 --Wappingers Falls, NY dentist Dr. Michael Meshnick, DDS, has provided a breakdown of the damage to the teeth and jaw that those suffering from bruxism, or the grinding of teeth, that may occur if the problem is left untreated. Teeth grinding is a traumatic experience for the mouth, and many sufferers may not even be aware that they have this condition until tooth and jaw pain become so irritating that the symptoms lead them into the dentists’ chair. Bruxism can lead to serious problems with the jaw, teeth, gums and more delicate bone structures of the mouth. A common disorder that arises from uncontrollable biting or grinding occurs in the temporomandibular joint. This structure connects the lower mandible to the skull, allowing the upper and lower jaws to open and close, making it possible to do things like speak and chew food. Those with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) will hear a popping sound when the jaws open or close. Symptoms of this disorder can range from headaches and neck pain to tooth sensitivity. TMJ is commonly treated with an application of muscle relaxants, aspirin, a biofeedback indication system, or plastic appliance worn in the mouth while asleep.
Less severe instances of TMJ mostly result in pain and discomfort involving the mandibular musculature. If the condition worsens, sufferers may experience misaligned joints or even a dislocated jaw. In the most extreme cases, TMJ sufferers may develop an arthritic condition in the jaw joint. In these cases the victim may need to undergo jaw surgery in order to fully correct the situation. By comparison, bruxism (teeth grinding), may be seen as a minor irritation or annoying habit, and is often the result of stress or anxiety that manifests in the tic-like behavior. It should be noted that compulsive bruxism may result in permanent changes in the bite structure and can cause severe tooth damage if left untreated. Off-axis grinding and biting can wear away enamel, crack the teeth and cause soreness and misalignment in the jaw.
The abnormal erosion caused by bruxism can prematurely age and even loosen teeth, opening them to hypersensitivity when small cracks form and expose the sensitive tissue in the dentin. Bruxism also often leads to chronic jaw and facial pain, as well as headaches. Many people who suffer from bruxism may not know it, as the condition often manifests itself in deep sleep. Those with the condition may notice that the teeth are increasingly short-looking or worn down. Some may notice small dents in the tongue caused by the recurring pressure. Though chronic, there are treatments available through the dentist. A special appliance can be worn while sleeping which protects the teeth. Some patients respond well to behavior modification, and it may behoove some to consider stress-reducing lifestyle changes. To learn more, visit Dr. Meshnicks’s practice online at http://www.wappingersfallsdentist.com.