Are you grinding and clenching your teeth while you’re sleeping? It may seem innocent, but grinding and clenching can actually cause a lot of damage to your smile. Grinding can wear down the tooth enamel, causing your face to sink and sag due to lack of support.
It can also cause you to look 10 to 15 years older than you really are. When they are clenched, the upper and lower teeth grind against each other, causing their sharpness to fade and offsetting your natural bite. Chronic grinding can also cause the jaw muscles to contract, disrupting the way teeth come together and causing ear pain, headaches and chronic facial discomfort. Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald E. Goldstein, DDS advises, “Your teeth should never touch unless you are eating. When the jaws are relaxed, the rule is 'lips together, teeth apart'.”
When it comes to grinding, the first step is to control the problem. Your dentist can create a custom-made appliance that prevents you teeth from touching and your bite from locking. It slips over the teeth either on the top or bottom, redistributing pressure to properly align the bite and stop clenching. Once the habit is broken, orthodontics can be used to move teeth that have shifted. Your dentist may recommend Invisalign—a series of custom-made, clear, removable, plastic aligners that straighten your teeth over an average course of 12 months. Once the treatment is complete, a night appliance can maintain results. For teeth with minimal to moderate wear, veneers may be all that’s needed. Resistant to stains and wear, they are placed over the front surfaces of the teeth to mask imperfections, such as misalignment, chips and gaps.