It is normal for people to clench or grind their teeth. This can happen when they’re upset or frustrated. However, if this habit becomes frequent and causes harm to your oral health, this gives rise to a condition called bruxism.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a condition where a person unknowingly and regularly clenches his or her teeth during the day. People who suffer from this condition also grind their teeth at night. This condition is referred to as sleep bruxism.
What Causes Bruxism?
It isn’t known for certain what causes this problem. There are physical and psychological factors that may cause bruxism. The most common causes of bruxism are stress and anxiety, which usually manifests during sleep through teeth grinding.
It can also be caused by a malformed bite, crooked teeth, or missing teeth. Sleep disorders, like snoring, sleep apnea, and sleep talking, can cause bruxism.
Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism
Most people are unaware that they are likely suffering from bruxism since teeth grinding often occurs when they’re asleep. However, some symptoms can tell you that you are likely suffering from bruxism.
For instance, a dull constant headache when you wake up is a good sign that you may have spent the night grinding your teeth. A sore jaw is also a good indicator that you may be suffering from bruxism.
However, people often learned that they grind their teeth at night because a loved one or a relative would tell them. The symptoms, however, may be similar to other dental or health problems. These symptoms include:
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Decreased tooth enamel
- Soreness and tightening of the jaws
- Loud grinding of the teeth that wakes you up
- Loose, flattened, or chipped tooth
- Bruxism headache especially upon waking up
Why is Bruxism Harmful?
In some cases, bruxism may result in tooth loss or fracture. You could wear down your teeth until you’ve reduced them to stumps. Not only can this damage your teeth, but this can also cause jaw problems. Bruxism can also worsen your TMD or TMJD. You may need to get a crown, bridge, implant, denture, or root canal to fix the resulting problem.
How Do I Protect My Teeth?
Your dentist can help protect your teeth from the damages caused by bruxism by fitting you with a customized mouth guard or night guard. This will help protect your teeth against bruxism, but this may not treat the condition altogether.
If teeth grinding is caused by stress, try to reduce your levels of stress. Attend counseling or start an exercise regimen. If your teeth grinding is caused by sleeping disorders, you might want to reduce the habit by treating the sleeping disorder itself.
Here are some other tips to help you treat the problem:
- Cut back on caffeine, colas, and chocolate.
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
- Avoid chewing on objects and chewing gums.
- Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth consciously.
- Hold a warm washcloth against your cheek at night to relax your muscles.
If you suspect that you are suffering from bruxism, make sure to talk to your dentist. He or she can examine your teeth to look for signs of bruxism, and design a customized night guard to help prevent night grinding.
Schedule an appointment with us today, and let us help you protect your teeth from bruxism.