Are You A Grinder?
By Buttercup 7 Day Dental 31st Jan 2017
“If I was a betting man, I would bet that you grind your teeth at night when sleeping” Gerwyn Rowlands
It would be a fairly safe bet, as studies show that more than half of the adult population grind their teeth.
“In my experience I would say that ¾ of my adult patients show signs of wear from grinding” Gerwyn Rowlands
You might be one of the lucky ones who don’t, but what if you are grinding your teeth?
In severe cases you can develop pain in the jaw joint, ear, head, neck and back. In all cases you will wear down your teeth. This happens so slowly that you probably haven’t even noticed the subtle change in the appearance of your teeth over years. “I certainly didn’t notice the wear on my teeth until it was very obvious” G. Rowlands. You might have noticed the edge of a front tooth, chipped or irregular teeth, and put it down to a bump you had years ago.
Either way, it’s worth having a good look in the mirror to look for signs of grinding. It’s pretty easy to do
Signs Of Grinding
#1 Flat Canines
Have a good look at your canines (your eye teeth). We all know that these teeth are supposed to be pointy. If you have pointy canines then things are looking up. If the point has gone, even if it’s just a little bit flat, then we should look at this further
#2 Jigsaw Teeth
Bite together so your back teeth are touching. Now slide your lower jaw over to the side so your top and bottom canines are touching. Does the flat biting edge of your canine fit perfectly like a jigsaw with the opposing one? If so, I’m afraid to say you are a grinder.
#3 Short Front Teeth
Now have a look at your top front teeth. We all know our front teeth should be kind of rectangular right? If your top front teeth look more square or even shorter, then you are a champion grinder.
These two pictures are opposite ends of the spectrum and you would hope that you’d notice something was up before you reach the photo on the right. That said, you would be surprised how far it can go before most people bring it up with a dentist. In the vast majority of cases we have to point this out to the patient.
#4 Smooth Lines
In order to catch this early, even if your teeth are rectangular, have a look at the biting edge of your top front teeth. Are they smooth straight lines or are they irregular with little chips? If you’re very lucky you may have three regular bumps on the biting edge. This is normal, and points to the fact that you are probably young and beautiful. For the rest of us we will have to settle for smooth lines.
#5 Irregular And Chipped Teeth
If you see that the edge is a little irregular and/or has little chips out of it, even if the edge looks quite thin and translucent, we should look at this closer. Slide the edges of your top and bottom front teeth side to side then forwards and back. A grinder will usually find the position where the teeth fit together just like a jigsaw. Hold it there and open slightly. You will see that the chip or groove on your biting surface corresponds to a worn down opposing tooth.
So I’m A Grinder, What Now?
If you have no related pain from grinding, if you are happy with the appearance of your teeth but have noticed early signs of wear then treatment is cheap and easy. All you need, probably, is a night guard.
This is similar to a sports guard or teeth whitening trays. It’s a custom made rubber based guard that fits neatly around your teeth. There are other alternatives, but it’s probably best to go with the cheapest option first to see if you can tolerate it. These are available on the NHS for less than £40. Be warned, you will not like this night guard for about a week. You will feel very aware of it when trying to get to sleep, and you will dribble a bit for the first few nights. Maybe don’t start wearing it on date night!
If you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, we’ll happily help you out! In most cases, as long as we have caught it early, we can build your teeth back up to their original shape with some simple bonding and tooth coloured resin fillings. As long as we take care we should be able to make the build ups invisible.
If the tooth wear is more severe, don’t fear, there are options available for you. If the tooth wear looks similar to the image above, you are going to need a full mouth rehabilitation which generally involves a lot of crowns. You will need a dentist with experience in complex cases like this.
At Buttercup 7 Day Dental we have experienced dentists who get very excited when they see cases such as these. However, don’t give us the satisfaction and catch tooth wear early, for your own healths sake.
Not sure whether you’re grinding your teeth? Want to put an end to grinding? Book an appointment today and we’ll have a look at it together