Your teeth should only get in touch with each other for 5 minutes a day under natural circumstances. Normal chewing leads to brief intervals of contact between enamel surfaces. Though enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, slight amounts of wear can happen over the years. The bite edges can get chipped a little and cause serious dental problems in the future. It is almost impossible to identify the rate of enamel wears most of the time.
There are cases when the teeth develop a worn and flattened appearance even at a young age. Going for x-rays can display unusual thin layers of the enamel as if sandpaper has been rubbed on the chewing surface of the teeth. Chewing food on a regular basis should not cause enamel erosion to such an extent.
You Don’t Even Know
Some patients generate the habit of subconsciously grinding their teeth both day and night. In numerous cases, the abrasive action happens during sleep for a span of a few seconds at a time. So, if you wake up with jaw pain or a severe headache, the chances of you grinding your teeth at night are high. In the case of some patients, the jaw muscles get enlarged due to the surplus activity of grinding. These muscles can be the strongest in the body which means they are prone to unnecessary damage.
The uncommon activity not just wears down the teeth but also stresses the muscles. Compressive forces that get applied during the grinding process can cause serious damage to the jaw joints on one or both sides. Damage to the joints can be the reason for chronic pain, arthritic changes and clicking or popping. Once one starts to suffer from such problems, reversing the condition might become impossible.
Avoiding Irreversible Damage
Meeting Dr. Mai can be a wise decision if you are waking up with a severe headache or a sore jaw or you have noticed chips or flattening of your teeth. The earlier you address such issues, the lesser the damage will be. Using a carefully calibrated night guard with a specific bite relationship built in will eliminate the signs of suffering from teeth grinding along with protecting the outermost layer of the teeth – enamel.
The daytime habit of teeth grinding can also be treated with the help of strategies formulated by Dr. Mai. She will also analyze the present relationship between your teeth to gauge if they are moving against each other optimally during the chewing process. In any case, getting rid of the strain on the jaw and your teeth as early as possible can help you prevent several problems with time.