The habit of grinding or clenching your teeth can affect your teeth while you are awake or asleep.
Long-term or severe grinding or clenching can lead to tooth, jaw muscle, and jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) damage (TMD). It can also lead to additional dental and medical treatment, including fillings , crowns , orthodontics, jaw surgery, and the need for prescription medication .
The cause of grinding or clenching is not entirely understood. It may be caused by a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors. It's important to consider that the resulting tooth wear (attrition) may be a result of past grinding or clenching. It is not necessarily an indication that a current habit exists.
Factors that can increase your risk of grinding or clenching your teeth include:
At each dental visit, your dentist will examine your teeth and review your health history. If they see signs of grinding or clenching, or if you tell them about symptoms you are having that may indicate grinding or clenching, they will discuss ways to treat the issue. The most important thing for your dentist to determine is whether the habit is currently active or whether the signs were from a past habit.
If you are experiencing grinding or clenching, there are some steps you can take to reduce your habit.
If you find your grinding or clenching symptoms worsening, speak with your dentist about your concerns.
Some things to expect at your visit include: