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Help! I Grind My Teeth

Your teeth are designed to crush and grind food while you’re eating. But a lot of us, unfortunately, suffer from unconsciously grinding our teeth at all times of the day — often while we’re sleeping.

Do you contantly grind your teeth even when you sleep? That's no good! Consult a dentist  right away.

Do you contantly grind your teeth even when you sleep? That’s no good! Consult a dentist right away.

It’s not just an annoyance — it can be a serious issue. The condition of grinding your teeth regularly is called Bruxism, and if you’re already aware that you’re having issues with it, odds are you’ve been experiencing some of the symptoms that can result. If you’re continually grinding your teeth, scheduling a dental exam is important, so any damage that’s already occurred can be addressed, and the cause or causes can be sorted out, too.

Regular Teeth-grinding Can Cause Frustrating And Serious Problems

If you’ve been grinding or clenching your teeth regularly — including when you’re asleep — it can cause serious damage to your teeth, along with other frustrating issues:

  • Your teeth can become worn, chipped or fractured, even loosened
  • Degradation of your tooth enamel can lead to high tooth sensitivity, which makes it difficult to eat hot or cold foods and sometimes leads to pain that results from changes in air pressure
  • You might start feeling various kinds of pain beyond your teeth, from recurring headaches and earaches to facial pain
  • Your jaw can tighten and the muscles in your jaw can feel tired

Regular Dental Checkups Are Important

At Legacy Hill, we always underscore the importance of keeping up with your regular dental checkups, and this is just one example of why. The earlier we catch the damage that’s resulting from your grinding or clenching, the quicker we can help halt that damage, and minimize (or stop) the pain you’re experiencing.

A good rule of thumb is to schedule your routine exam every six months, though the ideal span of time differs from patient to patient. Legacy Hill can tell you what’s best for your dental care.

What Legacy Hill Can Do To Help

The steps we’ll take to help will depend on your individual problem. Sometimes an uneven bite can lead to grinding, so having Legacy Hill address those bite issues can help reduce or stop the grinding.

If you’re grinding and clenching your teeth while you’re sleeping, we can fit you with an acrylic Night Guard, for either your upper or lower teeth. These keep your jaw in a slightly open position while you sleep, and stop you from continuing to grind your teeth.

Call Legacy Hill Dentistry if you’re experiencing problems with grinding your teeth. We’d love to help you feel better, and sleep better!

What is TMJ?

At some point in your life, you have probably looked down and seen a bruise and asked yourself, “How did that get there?”  Surprisingly the same idea can happen inside of your mouth.  Many people do not think about how much they use their mouth in a day to eat and drink, breathe, smile, and talk.  Sometimes when doing these routine things, people notice soreness in their jaws and cannot think of why it should be there.  This could be a hint that you have something going on with your Temporomandibular joint, or the hinge that connects the lower jaw to the skull.  If you feel you may be in need of dental care call Legacy Hill Dentistry to talk to an experienced staff member.

If you think you may have developed TMJ, call your dentist and be seen as soon as you can.

If you think you may have developed TMJ, call your dentist and be seen as soon as you can.


When these muscles and joints begin to give you trouble, you may be developing a Temporomandibular disorder. (TMD)  There are no clear causes for these disorders, but dentists are connecting a few habits that could be contributing including grinding or clenching your teeth, dislocation of the joint, arthritis, or stress which will cause facial muscles to tighten.  You may not realize that anything is wrong until you start experiencing multiple symptoms which include pain or tenderness in the face or jaw, limitations on how wide you can open your mouth, your jaw locking up or making a clicking sound, swelling or difficulty chewing.  As symptoms worsen, they can begin to spread to your teeth and neck.

So how are these disorders diagnosed?  Since these symptoms are common with diagnosing other conditions, your dentist will have to do a patient history and physical examination to make sure they are correctly diagnosing you.  The examination will include feeling the joints for swelling and observing how you bite and how your facial muscles react.  Often times they will also do an x-ray so they can see your entire jaw.  When symptoms are extremely harsh, you may need a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computer tomography. (CT)  If your dentist cannot care for you in office, they may send you to an oral surgeon.  There are common treatments to rid a patient of the symptoms of a TMD including heat or cold packs, eating a softer food diet, or medication.  If you ever suspect a problem with your teeth or mouth do not hesitate to call us today.

Options for a Broken Tooth

A broken tooth can range anywhere from mild annoyance to major discomfort.

Types of break you may experience:

  • Chip— may or may not need treatment. Easily repaired with surface filling to keep the problem from getting worse or becoming uncomfortable.
  • Crack—Minor hairline cracks often do not require treatment; cracks that extend the full length of the tooth may need fillings or other surface treatment.
  • Broken Cusp – pointed surface of the tooth, not usually painful because the break doesn’t reach the pulp or nerves. This type of break can usually be capped.
  • Serious Break—this type of break exposes nerves, and commonly bleeds. Often requires a root canal to remove dead nerves and blood vessels, then a crown.
One option for correcting a broken tooth is a crown.

One option for correcting a broken tooth is a crown.

While the more painful breaks will cause you to seek treatment right away, it is important to see a dentist for any toothaches caused by cracks or breaks, even if the pain comes and goes, in order to avoid a larger problem down the road.

What to Do

  • For serious breaks, seek treatment within 2-3 hours to reduce risk of infection.
  • Rinse with salt water, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen (or other OTC pain relief), use cold compress on outside of jaw if needed.
  • Place gauze in the socket to stop bleeding.
  • If jagged, cover with paraffin wax or sugarless gum to prevent cutting inside of mouth or tongue.
  • Eat soft foods. Avoid biting down on tooth and sugary or hot/cold food or drinks.
  • Save broken piece of tooth if possible.

Ways to Avoid Breaks

Some breaks are unavoidable, but there are many things you can do to protect your teeth.

  • Wear a mouth guard during sports.
  • If you clench or grind your teeth during sleep, have your dentist fit you for a night guard. You place tremendous pressure on your teeth when clenched during sleep, with no food to absorb the impact.
  • Avoid hard foods like candies, nuts, bagel chips, etc.

As always, regular dental cleanings and exams will keep your whole mouth in better shape and will help you avoid many problems, including breaks.

Teeth Grinder? Think About Getting a Mouth Guard

Mouth guards were originally designed to protect teeth from harm when participating in high-contact sports, such as boxing or football. These devices are now also used to address oral issues including teeth clenching and grinding. A mouth guard worn during sleep is the most convenient solution for bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding.

Mouth Guard - Smyrna TN - Legacy Hill Dentistry

Some people do not realize they have a teeth grinding problem until a dentist identifies tooth erosion. Others are awakened by clenching sounds they make with their teeth during sleep. A mouth guard worn while sleeping protects the surface of teeth, preventing erosion and chipping. It can also stop the development of jaw pain or headaches that prevent a restful sleep.

When tooth grinders begin wearing these guards, they become more aware of the movement of their teeth. They may begin to notice that they clench their teeth and may even realize that they grind their teeth while sleeping. Fortunately, the guard prevents top and bottom teeth from touching each other so even a long night of tooth grinding will not cause any harm.

Dentists create custom guards for their patients so these protective devices will not fall off during sleep. Even patients with fixed bridge work or braces can be fitted for mouth guards. To care for the device, clean it with toothpaste after each use and rinse it before inserting into the mouth. The guard should be stored in a sturdy, perforated container to prevent damage while permitting air circulation.

When a mouth guard becomes loose, worn, or torn, it should be replaced. Take the guard to each dental visit so the dentist can examine it to identify whether another dental issue may be responsible for the teeth grinding habit. By wearing their mouth guards diligently, patients prevent their tooth grinding habit from harming their mouths.