Are You Grinding Down Your Smile?

The big problem with bad dental habits: You usually don’t realize you are doing them until your smile is semi-destroyed. “The potential dangerous part of human habits is that they become subconscious, so we are not aware we are doing them,” says Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS. “Even more problematic is that most people are totally unaware of the harmful effects of a bad habit.”

Scarier still: Dr. Goldstein says that even if you DO know you are guilty of certain bad habits, grinding or clenching your teeth, for example, you might not realize you are doing them as much as you think—or that you are doing them rather frequently during the day. “Grinding or clenching the teeth can produce terrible symptoms such as temporomandibular joint problems, in addition to the extreme tooth wear over time. People who work out with heavy weights frequently have this unwanted habit,” he says, adding that even if you wear a bite guard while you sleep, this subconscious clenching or grinding in the non-nighttime hours could really be doing a number on your smile.

The solution: It’s smart to follow the rule: Teeth should never touch except when eating.


1 Comment
  • Posted on

    We used to think that grinding or clenching the teeth was associated with stress, but now we're finding out that a lot of people who are grinding may actually have sleep apnea or some kind of sleep condition. If they're not getting enough oxygen, they subconsciously grind their teeth to open their airway while they sleep. If you discover that you do suffer from grinding your teeth in your sleep, it doesn't necessarily mean you have sleep apnea, but it would be wise to find out. I encourage my patients to have it checked out by getting a sleep study done. Then you can determine the best way to deal with the grinding. For example, a night guard will help to protect your teeth from grinding, but may not be the most effective means of dealing with grinding due to sleep apnea. If you do actually have a sleep apnea, you need something more to keep your airway open.

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