Most adults over the age of forty can attest to going through a stage of clenching and grinding. This habit almost always has an emotional element — meaning that at times of high stress (job loss, upcoming wedding, moving to a new house) the habit can become more pronounced and continue for a longer period of time. But what was triggered by an emotional response can become a normal pattern. This regular clenching or grinding can become a daily occurrence and lead to significant damage to teeth, jaw joints, ligaments, and muscles. But stress isn’t the only thing that can induce clenching and grinding. Patients who present with misaligned teeth or a “bad bite” frequently exhibit evidence of grinding on teeth. This is the body’s (futile) attempt to create a balanced bite.
How Does Clenching and Grinding Impact Jaw Joints?
It may be hard to make the connection between grinding your teeth and achy jaw joints. It’s clear that the action of grinding is centered on the position and anatomy of teeth, so how can it impact the health of jaw joints? Teeth, gums, ligaments, muscles, and jaw joints are all part of the body’s dental system, and they’re all designed to work together without discomfort or the need for the body to accommodate imbalances. The reality is that not all bodies are created equal. Some patients’ are blessed with perfect bites – teeth in perfect alignment in arches that fit together ideally, others are less lucky. And for those of us who didn’t get the perfect bite there is more chance of having to deal with grinding patterns that not only shorten and flatten teeth (causing sensitivity and damaged dentistry), but also fatigue facial and neck muscles, pull jaw joints out of position, and mess up the entire dental system.
Can You Stop Clenching and Grinding?
Dr. Sean Wong at Bow Trail Dental in SW Calgary explains that clenching and grinding can be eliminated if the underlying cause is addressed. If it’s triggered only during times of stress then changing tooth and jaw relationship may not help. However, wearing a night guard will help to protect teeth and reduce the damage caused by grinding. When a bad bite is the trigger for clenching and grinding, a patient may benefit greatly from correcting bite issues with orthodontic treatment or restorative solutions. Once the underlying cause of clenching and grinding is addressed, the entire dental system can work in balance.
At Bow Trail Dental, we care about more than just your teeth. Your overall comfort and oral hygiene is important to us, so we work with all our patients to develop holistic dental treatment plans. If you’re struggling with sore jaw joints and aching facial muscles, our expert Calgary dentists may be able to help! Talk to the team at Bow Trail Dental today!