Facial pain and headaches often disappear when patients stop grinding their teeth, but tooth damage and other side effects such as infection may need treatment. The trouble is, many people don’t realise they are grinding their teeth until pain in their jaw or teeth alerts them — when irreversible damage has already been caused. Regular dental check-ups give dentists an opportunity to identify signs of teeth grinding early before serious damage takes place.
How to recognise teeth grinding
It’s rare for patients to alert their dentist to teeth grinding, and often they will be quite sure they don’t suffer from teeth grinding until the dentist identifies symptoms. A partner is likely to notice the problem first, for example they might hear a grinding sound at night.
It can be a side effect of medication such as antidepressants like include paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline. People who snore or have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea are more likely to grind their teeth, as are people who talk or mumble while asleep. Drinking alcohol or caffeine drinks to excess can make it worse.
Headaches, worn teeth that are painful, and pain the jaw joint and muscles are common results of teeth grinding. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), named after the jaw joint, may develop later. Signs of TMD include:
- pain around the jaw, ear and temple
- clicking, popping or grinding noises when the jaw is moved
- a headache around the temples
- difficulty opening the mouth fully
- the jaw locks when the mouth is opened
The pain may be worse when chewing and during times of stress, and TMD can also prevent people from enjoying a good night’s sleep.
Dr Devin Vaghela has a special interest in tooth wear management and he is qualified and experienced at treating TMD. Treatment may consist of prescribing painkillers and using hot compresses that enable heat to decrease muscle spasm, relax tense muscles, relieve pain and increase range of motion. Patients may be shown exercises to help with their jaw and asked to wear a splint at night.
Once the source of the pain and the tooth wear is under control any worn tooth tissues can be safely restored. This could be a simple matter of adding white fillings to the top of the teeth, using porcelain or composite veneers, or applying onlays or crowns to the back of the teeth. The dentist will be looking for safe and reliable ways of increasing height to the teeth, which could extend to a full mouth rehabilitation, something
Referrals for teeth grinding
General dentists who do not have experience in treating TMD can understandably be wary of touching patients who are in pain. We accept referrals and can treat complex cases.
Benefits of being treated for teeth grinding at The Bristol Dental Practice
- be treated by
, who has an interest in jaw joint problems and the management of advanced tooth wear
- Dr Vaghela can diagnose and treat TMD
- Dr Vaghela is skilled at using the Michigan splint, a type of stabilisation splint that requires special moulds ad measurements and is mainly used by specialist prosthodontists
- Dr Sherif Elbarbary is skilled at full mouth rehabilitations
- hundreds of cases treated
- stop pain in the jaw, jaw muscles and teeth
- repair any damage caused to tooth enamel
- heal other complications such as infections and ulcers
- restore a balanced, attractive smile
Dr Sherif Elbarbary – Dentist (GDC No: 260014)
BDS, MFDS RCS, MPros RCS (Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics), MJDF RCS
- Member of two Royal College of Surgeons; Edinburgh and England
- Special interests in Tooth Wear Management, Dental Implants and Smile Makeovers
Dr Devin Vaghela – Dentist (GDC No: 85948)
BDS, MFDS RCS, Cert. Adv Aesthetic Dentistry (UCL)
- Member of The Royal College of Surgeons of England
- Special interests in Aesthetic Dentistry, TMD and Dental Sleep Medicine