2. Teeth grinding
“Grinding is when you actively slide your teeth back and forth over each other,” explains Dr. MacDonald. It often occurs during the night and can become a fairly serious problem for teeth and the temporomandibular joint (the joint that hinges the jaw onto the skull, also known as the TMJ). “There’s no complete agreement on the cause [of teeth grinding], but daily stress is cited as a major factor,” says Dr. MacDonald. Over time, this habit can lead to fractured or broken teeth. Dr. MacDonald says he’s seen patients split their teeth through the root as a result of grinding.
To lessen the effects of this potentially painful habit, a nighttime grinding appliance (similar to a sports mouth guard, but slightly smaller) can be worn to prevent teeth-on-teeth grinding and to slightly open the mouth, putting the TMJ in a more relaxed resting position. Physiotherapy or massage therapy can also offer teeth grinders relief through stretching and massage, which will help the jaw and facial muscles to relax.