Do You Grind Your Teeth? The Chapel Hill TMJ Dentist Explains Why It’s A Problem

by Dr. Diane Hourigan | Date Published: 2018-07-17

Teeth grinding and clenching of your jaw while you sleep can create serious problems with your oral health, including bite misalignment, cracked or chipped teeth, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Some common signs that you grind your teeth during sleep are chronic headaches upon waking, shoulder and neck pain or a sensation that your jaw locks up when opening and closing your mouth.

Identifying the Cause

After a thorough dental examination by the Chapel Hill TMJ dentist, we can determine what the probable cause of your teeth grinding is and which treatment approach may be necessary to prevent long-term damage to your teeth. There are several reasons people grind or clench their teeth (also referred to as bruxing or bruxism):

  • Injury or trauma to the temporomandibular joint.
  • Misaligned dental bite
  • Muscle tension

A misaligned dental bite can cause your back teeth to become unbalanced, resulting in an excessive force being placed on one side of your mouth. In this case, you do not bite down evenly on all teeth, and the jaw shifts from its normal position to bring the rest of your teeth together.

This action causes you to clench or grind your teeth on that side of your mouth and puts constant, unnatural force on the joint and surrounding muscles. This is why you experience head and neck pain.

Simple, Non-Invasive Treatment

In many cases, the Chapel Hill TMJ dentist can create a simple custom appliance called a night guard that will reduce this uneven force on your teeth. However, a thorough exam is the best way to assess your situation and determine the underlying cause and best treatment for your teeth grinding and clenching.

If you believe that your symptoms may be caused by teeth grinding, please contact our office. We will discuss your symptoms and work with you to determine the best course of treatment that will address your needs and provide relief.