Teeth grinding could be interfering with your everyday life.
And you might not even be aware of it. Roughly 8 percent of adults grind their teeth. The technical name for this condition is bruxism, and when this happens on a continual basis, over time it causes the teeth to become worn down. Grinding and clenching cause dental problems, jaw pain, and symptoms that can ripple through your whole body.
So if you’re dealing with headaches, TMJ disorder, or sleep disturbances, there’s a good chance that bruxism could be contributing to or causing the problem.
Sleep-Related Causes of Bruxism
First of all, let’s divide bruxism into two categories: awake bruxism, and sleep bruxism. Sleep bruxism is more common, and you are likely unaware of it if you do grind your teeth in your sleep, unless a bed partner or someone sharing a room with you makes note of it.
Sleep bruxism is often connected to sleep disorders, such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and breathing pauses in your sleep. People with sleep apnea might grind their teeth because activating the muscles used for chewing helps to open their airways back up.
Other Reasons You May Grind Your Teeth
If you grind your teeth when you’re awake, there’s a good chance it’s connected to stress and anxiety. Other things can also cause bruxism, such as GERD and acid reflux. Malocclusion – which essentially means that your teeth come together abnormally – can make you grind your teeth.
Kids grind their teeth too, and in fact, they do it more than adults. They tend to grind their teeth during two important stages: when they’re cutting their baby teeth, and when they’re getting their permanent teeth.
How to Tell Whether You Have Bruxism
You aren’t awake at night to catch yourself grinding your teeth, so how can you tell if you’re suffering from bruxism? Since teeth grinding causes all sorts of symptoms, see if you identify with any of them.
Bruxism does affect your teeth – and it affects them a lot! Your jaw can exert about 250 pounds of pressure, and over time, the grinding and clenching motions and force can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear down.
The grooves and bumps on your teeth may start to flatten, and your teeth may become loose, fractured, and broken. As the enamel wears down, your teeth may also become sensitive and be susceptible to cavities, and your gums susceptible to gingivitis. Eventually, bruxism and teeth clenching can lead to tooth loss, and change the structure and appearance of your face.
Do you have jaw pain?
Think about this pressure and strain on your jaw and how it affects your temporomandibular joint and the muscles around it. Anyone who’s had TMJ disorder symptoms knows that they’re no small matter. Bruxism can cause TMJ disorder, which causes all sorts of things like jaw pain, soreness, headaches, neck pain, facial numbness, pain that mimics an earache, clicking and popping sensations, and tired jaw muscles. These symptoms can be extremely painful and disruptive to your everyday life.
If you’re grinding your teeth during your sleep, your sleep may be broken and disrupted. The noise might awaken your bed partner and cause them to experience restless nights, too. Bruxism seems like a small issue, but when it’s causing these kinds of problems, it needs to be treated.
Home Remedies and Prevention Techniques for Teeth Grinding
There are a number of things you can try from home to provide relief from mild to moderate symptoms of bruxism. Exercises that are designed to strengthen and relax your jaw muscles can help with pain and range of motion. You can use a hot or cold compress to soothe pain. Be careful with what you eat and chew on because it can exacerbate pain in your jaw. For example, don’t chew gum, and avoid foods that are really hard and sticky.
Take a look at your stress levels. If you are experiencing a lot of stress on a regular basis, it’s going to contribute to grinding and clenching. Think about the biggest things that cause you stress, and find a way to get help and ease the anxiety. If you consume them, cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Remember that lifestyle changes can help, but if you’re struggling with an ongoing problem like generalized anxiety disorder, reach out to a professional.
Your dentist in Bee Cave, Texas, can help.
If bruxism is interfering with your life and causing health problems, there are solutions. One method of treatment patients find very helpful is an oral appliance, or a splint. This device is worn at night and holds the jaw in an optimal position. It can help alleviate the disruptive symptoms of TMJ disorder and sleep apnea, and it stops the destructive wearing down of enamel that comes with bruxism.
Dr. Tomasik can help identify if you grind and clench your teeth by doing an assessment of your molars and looking for enamel wear. To find out if you have bruxism and if an oral appliance could help you, make an appointment with Tomasik Family Dental.