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Questions about Grinding
- Why do people grind their teeth?
- Does it change your appearance when you grind your teeth?
- Will your chewing be as effective when the teeth are ground flat?
- If the teeth are ground down too far, what can be done to get me looking good again?
- I get complaints at night about sounds I make as I grind my teeth – is there anything that can be done about this?
- What can be done that will prevent me from doing any more damage from grinding my teeth?
- If I grind my teeth down far enough, will I need a root canal?
- My front teeth have the edges ground flat – is there anything that can be done?
- Why do people grind their teeth? This likely has more to do with stress than anything else. There are unconscious patterns that are built up under stress where movement of the teeth over each other seems to be an outlet. I am occasionally aware of tapping my teeth together as I am busily doing some activity that seems in the moment to be stressful to me. When I become aware of it, I stop consciously – but it is likely to resume later. I’ve had kids as dental patients six years old and less that grind their primary teeth into little mortar and pestle shapes. As I talk to them about life, it often comes out that the parents are separated or divorced. Some people take their stress out on their stomach, making acid which causes ulcers, some people take it out on their teeth. Many people have NOCTURNAL BRUXISM – which is grinding the teeth at night. Some specific causes are discussed in Chapter III.4. The source of the stress or trauma may or may not be easy to figure out…………………BACK to questions
- Does it change your appearance when you grind your teeth? Yes, it certainly can! For the front teeth, people often grind the edges so they are flat across from canine to canine, when the teeth are designed to have their edges at different levels, with points on the canines. This flat, unnatural look, may not appear bad on a type-A man, because it is consistent with their overall demeanor. But, people might not like the look of the teeth OR the demeanor. If the back teeth are ground down too far, than the vertical height of the jaws, from top to bottom, may be lessened. If this is the case the chin and the nose get closer together and the lips take on a more pursed look. This is the result of severe grinding over many years, but to restore the look, particularly in profile, is a very expensive and invasive dental procedure………………… BACK to questions
- Will your chewing be as effective when the teeth are ground down? No. The cusps and ridges of the teeth are designed to occlude in a particular way, with a cutting action on food between the opposing teeth. When the teeth are flattened or bowl-shaped on the tops, the food is more smashed, rather than cut, and this is much less efficient. We may get used to it over the years, but the original forms would require much less pressure on the food, less trauma to the teeth in the bone, and much less exercise for the biting muscles………………… BACK to questions
- If the teeth are ground down too far, what can be done to get me looking good again? It could be costly. Treatment options are discussed in Chapter III.4. If your vertical dimension is changed, where the mouth is collapsed, every tooth in the mouth will have to be crowned to open the bite back up. THAT is expensive. If he front teeth are ground flat at the edges, it is possible that this can be restored well, but it might require crowning 12, or at least 10 of the anterior teeth, top and bottom. Sometimes composite can be added to rebuild the upper tooth incisal edges, but the possibility of this depends on how the teeth bite together – if there is enough room for the composite. Each situation is unique, and the solution will be unique to each individual as well………………… BACK to questions
- I get complaints at night about sounds I make as I grind my teeth – is there anything that can be done about this? My second wife ground her teeth at night – it sounded horrible! There aren’t too many blackboards anymore, but the older of you may remember the classic sound of fingernails on the blackboard – that’s it exactly. I made her a bite guard or night guard, which was just a bleaching tray that she wore that kept the teeth from touching. It is not expensive and comfortable to wear, and FAR more comfortable for the neighbors!………………..BACK to questions
- What can be done that will prevent me from doing any more damage from grinding my teeth? There are several approaches to this – and the first may be stress reduction procedures with a health professional. I’ve mentioned night guards, but this is only for the nighttime wear, but there should be freeway guards as well – people grind their teeth unwittingly during the drive to work, for example. While not practical for people to wear guards all the time – there may be changes in the teeth that will make it so certain teeth do NOT touch and wear each other out, even when you move your jaw side-to-side. ………………..BACK to questions
- If I grind my teeth down far enough, will I need a root canal? Strangely enough, if your teeth are ground slowly enough, which is usually the case unless the opposing tooth is porcelain, the cells in the pulp chamber will form more dentin INSIDE the pulp chamber in response to the invasion, and recede from the surface. Most of the time the pulp recedes faster than the wear advances. The phenomenon is similar for decay invading the tooth, but many times the decay advances faster and the pulp chamber is exposed………………… BACK to questions
- My front teeth have the edges ground flat – is there anything that can be done? Often there is not much that can be done. The edges of these teeth will have to be rebuilt with some material, and there has to be space for that material so that it doesn’t “hit high” on the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. IF there is room, then the reshaping, “bonding”, can be done. But if there is no room the tooth cannot be made longer, but the shape may be changed somewhat for a better look, if the tooth is cut down farther. One of the Cases described in Chapter I.2 discussed this exact situation. ………………..BACK to questions