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If you have tooth sensitivity, you might be afflicted with dental erosion from nighttime teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism. When it comes to wearing down protective tooth enamel, one of the causes is chronic teeth grinding, where the biting friction not only wears down enamel but sometimes fractures tooth fillings. Once tooth enamel erodes, the dentin layer below it can become exposed leading to tooth sensitivity as well as cavity-causing decay.

While acid erosion remains the main cause tooth enamel loss – from continual consumption of acidic foods and drinks, excessive sugar consumption, acid reflux that brings up stomach acids into your mouth through the esophagus and frequent vomiting – it isn’t the only cause. Bruxism can erode tooth enamel over time as a result of undue stress and anxiety, misalignment of the teeth or the bite, and even from medications such as antidepressants.

Most often teeth grinding and clenching happens at night when you are sleeping, and you may or may not even notice when you are doing it. The scary part of it bruxism is how much it damages your teeth. You see, when you bite and chew your food, you don’t do it harshly, because your conscious brain knows not to bite down too hard. When you clench your teeth in your sleep, the rational part of your brain no longer has control over the force of pressure. This means your jaw can exert anywhere from three to ten times more force than when you normally chew your food! Not only that but when you eat food the food itself provides some protective cushion for the teeth. Not so when you are asleep, and over time, this can severely damage them.

You might be suffering from the effects of bruxism if you have any of the following:

-Dull headaches when you wake up in the morning
-Sore muscles in your jaw
-Pain in the ears and jaw muscles
-Your teeth feel loose
-Damage on the oral tissues from biting your tongue or cheeks

If it turns out that you are grinding and clenching your teeth, treatment will be based on whatever is causing this behavior. Drs. Michael and Susannah at Shirer Family Dentistry might recommend managing and reducing stress levels or aligning the teeth or bite, and wearing a splint or mouth guard to protect your teeth further.

Wearing a custom-made night guard that fits comfortably over your teeth offers a stable cushion that absorbs the biting force of your teeth and jaws to protect your enamel while you sleep. This custom oral appliance is designed to treat your bruxism symptoms effectively by preventing the unconscious clenching and grinding while you get the sleep you need.

If you find yourself with one or more of the symptoms of bruxism listed above, we encourage you to seek treatment. Please give our team in Aiken, South Carolina a call to learn more or to schedule a consultation. We are pleased to help you take the best possible care of your teeth and jaws for a healthier, happier well-rested smile. Just reach out to our caring team by calling 803-648-6400 today!