Several weeks ago a 38-year-old gentleman came to my office complaining that shortly after having three crowns (caps) put in his mouth, he began to grind his teeth at night for the first time in his life. On arising in the morning he was experiencing jaw muscle soreness and on some occasions more sharp pain which limited his breakfast selections, which are common symptoms of Bruxism (the clinical terms for teeth grinding).
The first comment out of his mouth was, “I want to rip these teeth out of my mouth!” Was poor dental work the cause of this patient’s Bruxism? More questioning revealed that my patient’s new teeth were in great shape; not sensitive to hot, cold, or chewing, and his bite did not feel off balance.
Is it possible that these three new crowns were responsible for the reported night grind and if so how is this possible?
Point number 1:
Night tooth grinding (Bruxism) has been shown to have little, if anything, to do with the type of bite a person has. People with good and bad bites grind and clench their teeth at night.
Point number 2:
Night tooth grinding (Bruxism) seems to be related to arousals that occur in the brain during sleep. These brain arousals can be due to a number of factors such as drinking alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime, poor sleep environments, crying babies, chronic pain problems (back and neck), asthma, sleep apnea and or chronic tension and stress to name just a few possibilities.
Point number 3:
In clinical studies that have been conducted in patients with known histories of night grinding, the placement of dental restorations made intentionally high and out of balance with the rest of the teeth, have actually led to a diminished amount of night grinding for several weeks. This suggests that throwing the bite out of balance can actually reduce the amount of teeth grinding at night!
Based upon what we know, it is unlikely that Bruxism can be caused by poor dental work (unless pain developed as a result of the work and disrupted a patient’s sleep). When similar scenarios occur, other factors are likely playing a role and it is very important to see your dentist for a full evaluation.