Over dinner, my dad told me that he has noticed his teeth wearing over the last five years. He also mentioned that he makes loud grinding noises at night as he sleeps.
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a phenomenon that has eluded many dentists for years. Some studies claim that the problem is neuromuscular in nature, while others claim that grinding is a habit developed throughout childhood; misaligned teeth and stress have also been implicated. In any case, the end result of this issue is common--flattening of the biting surfaces of the teeth. According to literature, teeth should wear at a rate of 0.01 millimeters (mm) per year, thus requiring 100 years for one to wear through 1 mm of tooth structure. Most people that notice the wear patterns on their teeth have usually already lost more than 1 mm of tooth height. Treatment is highly dependent on the severity of the wear and the current status of the grinding. If one has noticed that their facial profile has shortened within the last five years, there is a likelihood that the bite may need to be re-established as close to the original height as possible. If the grinding has only been noticed recently, the best form of treatment is to provide protection for the dentition with a night guard. In addition, the patient should be consciously aware that teeth should only ever be touching when swallowing and occasionally when eating.
Dr. Hyatt’s Dental Corner
As your family advocate for dental care we would like to provide you with some tips on how to save your money and have a beautiful smile.