Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth unconsciously. Occasional grinding is common and not usually a cause for concern, but if your bruxism is more severe it can cause serious damage. If you tend to grind your teeth at night, this can also interrupt your sleep and impact your health.
More information about bruxism and possible treatments:
Types of Bruxism
There are two main varieties of teeth grinding: awake and sleep bruxism. Both of these can be caused by stress. Grinding your teeth during the day can also be a habit when you are concentrating. Nighttime bruxism often occurs with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Sleep-related bruxism may also have a genetic link.
How to Tell If You Grind Your Teeth
Many people who grind their teeth while sleeping do not know that they are doing so until a loved one hears the noise at night or a dentist notices signs of damage. However, there are some warning signs you can watch for. If you usually wake up with jaw pain or have a constant, dull headache, it may be due to teeth grinding. A dentist can confirm whether or not there are any visible signs.
The Effects of Teeth Grinding
One of the acute effects of grinding or clenching your teeth is tooth pain. This can start minor and progress to a severe toothache if left untreated. You may also notice increased tooth sensitivity, pain in your jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and even fracturing of teeth. Additionally, bruxism can reduce the longevity of any crowns, bridges, or veneers.
In the long term, persistent grinding can shorten your teeth. This is both a cosmetic and functional issue. Severe wear can deteriorate the structure of your teeth and even cause tooth loss or resorption of the bones in your jaw over time. This condition also disrupts your sleep which can lead to fatigue, lower immunity, and other health issues.
One of the most effective treatments for daytime teeth grinding is reducing your stress level. You can ask your doctor or dentist for recommendations if you aren’t sure where to start. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also beneficial. You should also try to be aware of when you grind your teeth and, if you catch yourself doing so, place your tongue between your teeth to relax your jaw and stop the clenching.
Reducing stress and avoiding caffeine/alcohol consumption are also helpful for nighttime teeth clenching. In this case, a mouth guard is a good option to minimize the amount of damage that can occur. The best choice is to be fitted by a dentist for a custom occlusal night guard. The options you can find in your local drug store may worsen TMJ problems.
Struggling with Teeth Grinding?
If you are having problems with grinding or clenching your teeth, Smith Dentalworks can help. We can discuss your options with you to find treatment solutions that protect your teeth. We want you to have a beautiful, healthy smile and are here to guide you through the process of improving and maintaining your oral health.