Treatment by Denver TMJ Dentist, Dr. Kevin Berry
Tooth wear is a normal part of aging. Although we eat softer food than our ancestors, over time our teeth can still begin to wear down. But there’s a difference between normal tooth wear–which progresses slowly over a lifetime and affects all teeth evenly—and abnormal wear, which can affect one or a few teeth or progress very quickly. It’s also normal to have a tooth chip due to trauma or an accident, but not normal to have teeth that chip repeatedly with no real cause.
If you are suffering excessive wear on your teeth, or if they are chipping regularly, it’s likely that you are suffering from TMJ, and unless treated damage to your teeth will only intensify. To learn whether TMJ is causing your worn or chipped teeth, please call (303) 691-0267 or email the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.
Tooth Wear Should Be Gradual
For people with a normal bite, tooth wear should be gradual. Your teeth are designed to avoid touching much. They normally keep a certain distance apart when chewing, and if they contact, it’s only at certain points, called guidance contacts. This tells your muscles to pull back when you’re chewing or go forward if you’re trying to bring your teeth together. Other unexpected contact, such as with a hard particle in your food, startles us.
Teeth also come together when your jaw is performing its function of muscle stabilization, during swallowing or physical exertion.
In an unhealthy bite system, your teeth are contacting often, and hard. It’s usually happened in a certain place because your jaw is imbalanced and doesn’t come together evenly. Even normal instances of tooth contact come with excessive and imbalanced force.
Are You Grinding Your Teeth?
Tooth grinding (also called bruxism) is a common symptom of both a bad bite and stress. In either case, your teeth clench together hard, either during the day or at night (sometimes with back-and-forth motions that increase wear). Bruxism may be either a symptom or a cause of TMJ.
If you notice yourself grinding your teeth only in certain situations (such as at work or during your evening commute), it’s likely that stress is the major factor, and bruxism may be reduced with stress control. Sleep bruxism is often only identified by sore muscles or a headache in the morning. Sleep bruxism is commonly associated with sleep apnea, and people who have it should be tested for apnea.
For many people, bruxism occurs either during the day or during sleep, and it’s not related to stress. Instead, people are clenching their teeth because jaw muscles are having trouble finding a comfortable relaxed position.
Finding and Treating the Underlying Cause of Tooth Wear
Whether you are grinding your teeth during the day or at night, you will eventually destroy all your teeth if you do not treat the primary cause of your dysfunction. If you try stress control techniques without success, or if you think that your bruxism is not related to stress, at our Denver office we can analyze your bite to determine whether it is the cause of your tooth damage. We can then help your jaw find a more comfortable position to reduce or even stop bruxism and tooth wear, allowing you to restore your smile to a healthy appearance.
If you would like to learn more about worn, cracked, or chipped teeth, please contact the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.