Category: Grinding Teeth

Threats to Your Dental Health

Tooth enamel is important
Unseen threats may be putting your teeth at risk!


As we noted in our last post, Missouri lags behind most states in the U.S. for accessible dental care. But it made us think about other threats to your dental health that have emerged in our modern society. 


What We Eat 

Dental health is tied closely to overall health, and most Americans aren’t doing a very good job of managing either one. Most of us consume lots of processed foods with high sugar and chemical content. These food additives are designed for flavor and shelf-life, but are generally bad for your teeth, as they stick around longer and can upset your mouth’s natural balance

What We Drink

In an effort to combat the obesity epidemic, communities around the country are considering the restriction of super-sized sodas. For teeth, this is great news! With a combination of acidity and sticky chemicals, soda and other carbonated sweetened beverages wreak havoc on teeth. The American Dental Association recommends at least a 1:1 ratio of soda to water consumption. Plus, there are numerous benefits for both your mouth and your body when you replace soft drinks with water. 

How Much Stress

As we’ve said, Anxiety Bites. But in modern life pulls everyone in more different directions than ever before. Stress-related bruxism presents a significant threat to your overall dental health. If tension and anxiety have you gritting and grinding your teeth, find ways to counteract the chaos of modern life — Unplug, go outside, exercise, meditate, develop a hobby. All of these activities can help bring balance in a world dominated by ugly headlines, looming deadlines, pinging email reminders and text alerts stacking up like a Tetris game. 


If you have other concerns or questions about how you can improve your dental or overall health, ask us at your next appointment


Grinding all night, every night?

Bruxism can be a symptom of more serious health issues.

Just noisy…

Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw, neck, mouth or a headache? If so, you may suffer from Bruxism – often referred to simply as teeth-grinding. If you’re married, chances are your partner may have heard or seen your jaw clenching away in the night.

… or more serious?

But it’s more than just an annoyance to spouses. Grinding can be a symptom of a bigger health issue. Sleep experts note that their studies show that both bruxism and GERD (acid reflux) have been linked to health risks including stroke, heart disease, arrhythmias and esophageal cancer.

Plus there is the disruption in sleep that comes with teeth-grinding. Ongoing lack of quality sleep can cause a host of problematic symptoms, including depression, memory loss, hypertension and weight gain, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

An increasing number of mouth, nose and throat disorders are being linked to unusual cranio-facial development. Additional research is also showing that teeth-grinding may be symptom of obstructed breathing during sleep. Known as upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), this collection of conditions can be serious. They can be a precursor to the more serious sleep apnea— where breathing actually stops for seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times each night.


Regardless of the cause, bruxism has serious side affects (cracked or broken teeth, damage to existing dental work, loss of sleep) and shouldn’t be ignored. The good news is that there are numerous options that not only prevent nighttime grinding, but also help with UARS.  If you find yourself clenching or grinding during the day, relax! Dr. Meyer specifically recommends a simple repetitive reminder of “Lips together, teeth apart.”

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, or have unexplained tooth wear or damage, talk to us. We’ll check for problems and recommend a mouthguard, splint or other solution that can help.


Anxiety Bites

Does stress have you gritting your teeth?
It may be a bigger problem than you think.

TMJ disorders can affect overall health

TMJ pain can affect your bite, how you chew… even your sleep patterns!


From political upheaval, economic uncertainty, and social change, there is more than ever to be stressed about. From workplaces to schools, social media is also increasing scrutiny and self-consciousness, especially on our children and teens. In fact, one study in Psychology Today study showed that modern high school students experience anxiety levels equal to the average patient in 1950’s mental institutions.

Some health professionals are are pointing out that one of the less-obvious results of higher stress levels is an increase in Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle disorders, collectively known as TMDs. In our popular blog post last year, we showed how the long-term effects of teeth-grinding (Bruxism) and other TMJ-related disorders can be detrimental to your overall health.

What is TMJ?

The TMJ connector is one of the most complex joints in the body, combining both a typical ball and socket with a sliding hinge that allows us to effectively chew a variety of foods. TMDs are typically classified in three categories:

  1.  Myofascial pain – discomfort or soreness around the muscles controlling jaw function
  2.  Internal joint derangement – involves a displaced disc, dislocated jaw or injury to the condyle, the rounded end of the jawbone
  3.  Arthritis – degenerative/inflammatory disorders that can affect the joint

The pain from minor TMJ problems may sometimes resolve itself, but persistent discomfort can be a telltale sign of more serious TMD. Common complaints include:

•  Headaches (similar to migraines), earaches, or pain/pressure behind the eyes

•  Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth

•  Pain that comes while yawning, widely opening the mouth or chewing

•  Jaws that feel like they “get stuck,” lock up or pop out of place

•  Consistently sore or tender jaw muscles

•  Sudden change in your bite, or how your upper and lower teeth fit together

TMD can have long-lasting negative impacts on your oral and overall health. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to have our professionals at Meyer & Johns Dental assess your situation.


The top ways to alleviate TMD symptoms, according to Colgate’s online Oral Care Center:

•  Medication – try to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication, such as muscle relaxants, aspirin, other over-the-counter pain-relievers/anti-inflammatory drugs.

•  Night guard – reduce the harmful effects of tooth clenching/grinding with a night guard or splint.

•  Relax – learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest you seek training or counseling to help eliminate stress.

Bruxism: More Common than It Sounds

Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, is often thought of as nothing more than a “harmless, annoying habit.”

However, grinding your teeth can seriously transform your bite and severely damage your teeth and jaws. Teeth grinding also causes abrasions to the surface of the teeth, which can affect the ability to chew. The abnormal damage caused by bruxism can prematurely age and loosen teeth, which opens them to a variety of issues such as: hypersensitivity, chronic jaw and facial pain and even headaches.

Routine dental exams will expose potential teeth grinding. However, here are a few clues you might grind your teeth:

  • Sore jaw
  • Popping sounds when you open and close your mouth
  • Short or worn look to teeth
  • Small dents in your tongue

Fortunately, there are ways to combat bruxism. One common treatment is a special mouth guard to wear while sleeping.

“Treating bruxism with a mouth guard worn at night is a great way to reduce wear on your teeth and help with sore muscles,” said Dr. Meyer. “A good daytime reminder you can do yourself to help stop clenching and grinding is to remember: lips together, teeth apart.”

If you suspect you grind your teeth, have any of the symptoms such as jaw pain or headaches, or notice abnormal wear or tear on your teeth, make an appointment, today. While the damage of grinding teeth takes place over a prolonged period of time, the damage is very real and can be quite serious. The best solution is to be proactive!