Paying attention to your teeth involves more than just brushing and flossing them twice a day. By attending your dental checkups and cleanings at least twice a year, you can help ensure those threats don’t become a serious situation. Besides plaque and tartar, which are comprised of bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gingivitis, teeth-grinding is another danger Dr. Villani thoroughly checks for during your visit. More formally known as bruxism, the chronic grinding of your teeth generates more force and friction than your teeth are designed to withstand. By detecting and addressing it early, your Brighton dentists can help you stop bruxism and protect your beautiful, healthy smile.

Is It Really a Habit?

Though you might occasionally notice that you clench your teeth together throughout the day, many bruxers do the most damage in their sleep, when they can’t consciously stop themselves. Its consistent occurrence may make bruxism seem habitual, but it isn’t exactly a habit, and is usually caused by reflexes in your jaw’s muscles. While your brain’s control may be inactive while you sleep, your brain’s and muscles’ reflexes remain on alert. When an underlying issue stimulates these reflexes, your jaws will involuntarily clench together, and bruxism is often the result.

What Causes Bruxism?

Recent studies suggest that up to 20% of Americans suffer from bruxism to some degree. Unlike tooth decay or gingivitis, which are caused by poor hygiene and excessive bacteria buildup, teeth-grinding can occur for a number of different reasons. If your dentist notices worn, cracked, or fractured teeth that indicate bruxism, then treating your condition will likely depend on finding what causes it, which may include;

  • Excessive stress and anxiety in your daily life
  • Jaw dysfunction (TMJ disorder) that affects your jaw’s joints and muscles
  • Crooked teeth that throw your bite off balance and force your jaw to compensate

What to Do About It

If you notice that you unconsciously grind your teeth during the day, then you might assume you do at night, as well. If it’s severe enough, then your partner might hear the sound of your teeth grating against each other while you sleep. If you suspect you might have bruxism, then visit your dentist as soon as possible for a comprehensive examination and assessment. Minor cases of bruxism might not pose a significant danger to your teeth, though mild to moderate cases might require a custom-appliance designed to protect teeth from each other.


Brighton Family Dental Group is located in Brighton MA. Featuring experienced dentists and an excellent range of in-office treatments, Brighton Family Dental Group is a great destination for any member of your family who is in need of dental care. Patients can schedule an appointment or a consultation with Dr. Thomas Villani by calling (617) 562-5210.