Teeth grinding (or bruxism) is a common condition with a range of causes – including stress, genetic predisposition, sleeping disorders, jaw misalignment, and high caffeine or alcohol intake.
Those who suffer from bruxism usually grind their teeth at night, which means that they may go years without realizing that they are doing damage to their teeth. It takes a while for the wear and tear of tooth grinding to become obvious, and some individuals don’t even realize that they are grinding their teeth until they chip or seriously damage a tooth.
While damage to the teeth themselves is the main effect that comes to mind when considering bruxism, another effect that many people do not expect is gum recession. Unfortunately, in addition to tooth damage, jaw pain, headaches, hearing loss, and neck pain, teeth grinding can also cause severe gum recession thanks to the pressure put on the gums through repetitive and aggressive motion.
How exactly does teeth grinding cause gum recession?
The first way that bruxism leads to teeth recession is through inflammation. When you grind or clench your teeth tightly, you are forcing the teeth to wiggle slightly. This motion can cause stress and inflammation along your gumline. Additionally, you may be doing damage to the enamel along the gum line, which will contribute to the deterioration of the gum.
Even worse, when you grind or clench your teeth, you are causing repeated trauma to not only the surface of the teeth but also the roots of teeth. The pressure you send through your teeth can cause the roots to loosen, making the teeth unstable in their sockets.
Maybe you have had those classic dreams about your teeth falling out? Well, the teeth don’t have to become that loose in order to start causing damage deep down.
When the teeth are even slightly unstable in their sockets, you make room for deep gingival pockets to form. Bacteria can collect in those pockets, and that bacteria can lead to periodontitis, a form of gum disease.
How do you treat receding gums?
The answer to this question really depends on how far your gums are receding and whether or not gum disease is playing a role.
The most basic, daily routines do make a difference in preventing and lessening the effects of gum recession. So, start by making sure that you floss every day, and consider the way you brush your teeth. Brushing too aggressively or in the wrong manner can contribute to gum recession and affect the enamel on your teeth.
If you smoke, quit because smoking can cause you to develop sticky plaque, which plays a role in making your gums recede as well.
Non-surgical gum recession treatments include:
Professional deep cleaning (also called scaling and root planing) – this is for mild cases of gum recession. The cleaning will remove tartar buildup and smooth over exposed root areas to make it more difficult for bacteria to attach there.
Antibiotics – these can be added on to a deep cleaning procedure to ensure that any bacteria that are in the gum are eliminated entirely.
Surgical options include:
Pinhole surgical technique – in this surgical treatment for receding gums, your dentist will make a small hole in the gum tissue above the exposed tooth root, separate the gum from the tooth, and stretch the gum down further over the tooth.
Gum graft – this surgery involves removing tissue from another area of your mouth and grafting it into place above the exposed tooth root. This surgery may be necessary for those with more advanced gum recession or for those who have not had success with other techniques. Your dentist will talk to you about different kinds of grafts to help you choose the best option for you.
Prevent further gum recession by treating your teeth grinding.
Since teeth grinding is a contributor to gum recession, it is important to take steps to stop damaging your teeth and gums through teeth grinding. The main hurdle is identifying the cause of your bruxism. You should have your jaw alignment checked by a professional, and you should consider the amount of caffeine and alcohol in your daily diet. You should also start including daily stress reduction techniques in your schedule.
However, even when taking these measures, you should make sure you protect yourself from the effects of teeth grinding because it is hard to cure yourself of bruxism. Sometimes teeth grinding is genetic, and sometimes it is simply a habit your body has been doing for so long that it is impossible to eliminate it entirely. What’s worse: since teeth grinding usually happens at night, you can never be sure that you are not doing it.
So, while you must take steps to reduce or eliminate bruxism from your life, you should also take steps to protect your teeth from bruxism.
Invest in a night guard.
The fastest and most accessible way to prevent continual damage due to teeth grinding is to wear a night guard. This is a semi-hard plastic device that fits over your teeth at night and prevents them from rubbing against and crashing into each other. It is a simple but incredibly effective way to prevent the kind of damage that leads to gum disease and recession.
Night guards can be found in drug stores, but the better and more effective ones are custom-made to fit your teeth. Usually, patients will order these through a dentist, but TeethNightGuard.com now offers patients the opportunity to order custom night guards straight from the lab – bringing you the same great results at a fraction of the price.
You get to make a mold of your mouth, send your impression back to the lab and choose from a selection of plastic densities – which range from highly flexible and soft to harder and more durable for the truly aggressive teeth grinder.
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