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If your teeth are chipped, it’s a sign that you may grind your teeth and need a mouthguard. The enamel on your teeth can take a lot of wear and tear but repeated grinding can weaken the enamel, resulting in chips and cracks. For more information read our post, “How to Tell if Your Tooth is Cracked.”
If you know that you grind your teeth, either because it wakes you up or your partner tells you so, it’s best to go and see a dentist. Grinding can be a stress-response and if you lead a high-stress life your grinding is not likely to go away. A mouth guard can help by being a protective barrier between your teeth, although it will not stop you from continually grinding or clenching your jaw muscles.
“Pot-holes” on your teeth are places where your tooth has worn down from tooth-on-tooth grinding. The marks look like small pits on the tops of your teeth that are the result of repeated wear. Other physical signs of grinding are fracture lines or your teeth looking shorter than you remember.
If you wake up with a headache or jaw/face pain most mornings it is likely that you grind your teeth. Grinding your teeth and working your jaw muscles all night can be very painful and cause strain and soreness on facial joints. Chewing during the day typically applies 20-40 pounds of force on your teeth per square inch, but grinding at night typically applies about 250 pounds of force per square inch, so there’s a reason your head hurts!
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJD is when the jaw joint and connected muscles are inflamed, and movement of the jaw is painful. TMJD is caused by disk erosion, cartilage damage, teeth-grinding, and injury. One of the most common treatments is a mouth guard but some dentists may prescribe additional medication or physical therapy.
Studies show that chemicals found in certain antidepressants cause teeth grinding. If you are on antidepressants, ask your doctor about potential side effects, as teeth grinding may be one of them.
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