By David Hudnall, DMD
Have you ever noticed that most advertising features people with perfect teeth? Unfortunately, not everyone falls into this category. Although nobody is talking about it in their marketing plan, ground teeth are a rampant problem in today’s society. We’ll get into why in a moment.
First, let’s delve into what causes the issue, the symptoms, and how to fix ground teeth.
What Are Ground Teeth?
Wear to tooth structure, also known as attrition, is a natural phenomenon that occurs throughout life. Most people experience attrition of their teeth without consequence or any noticeable alteration in function. Ground teeth are another matter entirely. Teeth become ground when the chewing and biting surfaces appear as worn down teeth and flattened.
Ground teeth usually indicate there is some type of functional reason or parafunctional habit present that is wearing the natural tooth structure at a more rapid rate than attrition alone. Depending on the patient, wear can become progressive with time, causing permanent damage. This damage or “wearing away” of tooth structure can lead to discomfort, pain, and dental problems involving the nerves of the teeth.
A patient with ground teeth can lose vertical dimension in severe cases. This means that the face appears somewhat collapsed, and the lips seem to disappear at rest. In addition to an altered appearance, the jaw joints must close beyond their normal range in order for the teeth to come together for chewing, placing undue strain on the ligaments and musculature. All in all, it is not an ideal combination for long-term dental health.
Symptoms of Tooth Grinding
Symptoms of tooth grinding are not limited to changes in appearance. Teeth grinding can bring about pain to the muscles of the jaw and neck, locking of the jaw, clicking, clenching, or popping of the jaw when opening or closing, tension headaches, ear pain, and excessive wear or unexplained chipped or cracked teeth. The pain associated with chronic ground and worn teeth can become debilitating and can affect your overall quality of life.
Without treatment, ground-down teeth can lead to wear and tear, resulting in tooth fracture, loose teeth, and tooth loss. In addition, some patients experience soreness within the muscles of mastication, temporomandibular joint pain, headaches, and even hearing disorders.
The multi-pronged range of symptoms can vary widely from person to person. If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect that you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. A dental professional will examine your mouth and jaws for signs of grinding. They can also prescribe a treatment regimen to prevent further damage.
See Also: Sports Mouthguards and Teeth Grinding Night Guards Protect Your Teeth
Causes of Tooth Grinding
Ground teeth can occur in a variety of ways and could be caused by malocclusion or an uneven bite, which prevents the teeth from meshing correctly while chewing. Without dental intervention, the interference will eventually cause tooth wear in order to allow teeth to contact one another when eating. While a bad bite can be one cause of ground teeth, there is a far more likely cause that many people have in common – stress.
Life is filled with stress. Bruxism is a condition where the person unconsciously grinds their teeth, usually while sleeping, and is totally unaware of the damage that they are causing to their teeth, the support structures for the teeth, and the muscles and joints used for chewing. Sleep bruxism is hard on jaw muscles and can destroy dental bonding.
How to Fix Ground Teeth
If ground teeth are due to an issue with the position or arrangement of your teeth, they can usually be addressed with dental treatment to restore what has been lost. Professionals can also fix worn teeth and even place cosmetic bonding if needed.
However, if bruxism is the culprit, mouthguards and adjunctive therapy may be necessary to determine and address the root cause of tooth grinding.
Mouthguards don’t fix ground teeth or put back tooth structure that has been lost. Rather, they prevent injuries and further unconscious deterioration of tooth structure by providing a separation of the teeth during sleep – the most destructive hours for parafunctional activity.
A well-constructed laboratory mouthguard can ease tension on the chewing musculature by placing it into a more relaxed and neutral position, preventing further damage to the teeth caused by subconsciously engaging with one another. It’s also possible that mouthguards can help people learn how to stop grinding teeth.
Dental crowns are the preferred method to fix ground teeth. Crowns allow teeth to be restored to their original dimensions, restoring the height lost by bruxism. Although crowns are typically made from materials that are harder and more durable than enamel, it is still possible to grind subconsciously, which can flatten crowns and cause restoration failure. The last thing that a patient wants is to destroy their new crowns or porcelain veneers due to teeth grinding.
Therefore, most dentists want patients to undergo medical and/or behavioral evaluation to determine and address the root cause of their tooth grinding. In addition, dental crown and bridge patients with a history of bruxism must wear a lab-processed mouthguard at night in order to protect the investment made in the dental work to restore their teeth.
Wondering how to fix ground teeth? Removal of all of the natural teeth and replacement with dentures is one method. This is an extreme measure, and the decision to have all of the teeth extracted should not be taken lightly. Dentures allow the dental professional to start all over and restore your teeth to their proper dimension, alleviating the stress placed on the masticatory system and relieving pain associated with mouth overclosure.
Dentures could be a viable solution if most of your teeth are non-restorable or require multiple root canals in order to be repaired. Patients should be aware that it is still possible to grind their teeth with dentures. Patients with a history of bruxism should expect to replace dentures more frequently than those who do not grind their teeth.
Dentures for Ground Teeth
While complete dentures certainly address the dilemma of how to fix ground teeth, there are also other denture services available. If you have a few natural teeth present, often they can be restored with crowns so that you can wear partial dentures.
Many patients find partial dentures to be more comfortable and secure than complete dentures and will opt for partials to fill in the gaps where teeth are missing, restoring a complete smile with less treatment at a more affordable price point.
See Also: Bad Habits Guaranteed to Damage Your Teeth
European Denture Center: Healing Ground Teeth
Are you facing the dilemma of how to fix ground teeth? European Denture Center offers a range of solutions designed to prevent further destruction or to put back what you have lost. Our caring professionals will listen to your concerns and develop a treatment plan that addresses what is important to you. Why deal with teeth that are worn and flattened?
Set your consultation visit today to understand the options for fixing ground teeth!