Teeth grinding may not seem like a serious issue. In fact, you can even do it in your sleep without knowing. But, if you engage in this habit regularly, you could have a condition known as bruxism.
Our team checks each of our patients for signs of bruxism during general exams at The Dental Touch in Oakland, California. We also offer treatment options to help you avoid any complications down the road.
Here’s what you should know about bruxism and why you shouldn’t ignore it.
It’s completely normal to clench or grind your teeth in moments of high emotion. However, when it occurs frequently, it’s a condition known as bruxism. And it can occur while you’re awake or asleep.
People of all ages can experience bruxism, including children. But certain things can increase your risk of this condition, such as:
- A family history of the condition
- Increased levels of stress, anxiety, anger, or frustration
- Having a competitive, argumentative, or hyperactive personality
- Using substances like caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drugs
- Taking certain medications, especially some antidepressants and antianxiety drugs
Certain health conditions can also cause bruxism, like gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), sleep apnea, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Unfortunately, persistently clenching or grinding your teeth can lead to a variety of issues.
Without treatment, bruxism can take a toll on everything from your teeth and jaw muscles to the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that connect your skull and jawbone. That’s because your teeth and jaw can deliver up to 250 pounds of force, even while you sleep.
Common bruxism-related problems include:
- Loose or lost teeth
- Worn, chipped, or fractured teeth
- TMJ disorders, like jaw clicking and muscle tension
- Jaw pain
- Changes in facial appearance, including your profile
Since it’s possible to grind your teeth and not know it, our team looks for these signs of a problem during every dental exam. However, there are also symptoms you can watch for on your own.
Signs of bruxism
In addition to the dental signs of bruxism, you can experience symptoms that offer clues to this problem. For example, a person can clench or grind their teeth so loudly that someone else can hear it — even waking them up during sleep.
Other signs of bruxism include:
- Disrupted sleep
- Tired or tight jaw muscles
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw, or neck
- Tooth sensitivity or pain
- Damage or irritation inside the cheek from chewing
- Tension-type headaches starting in the temples
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? It’s time to talk to your dentist.
Treatment for bruxism
Fortunately, there are ways to address bruxism once you know you have a problem.
In many cases, even making lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, reducing your caffeine intake, and limiting alcohol can offer dramatic results. You can even improve bruxism symptoms by practicing stress management techniques — like meditation and warm baths before bed — or changing your sleeping position.
However, we could also recommend a customized oral device as protection from nighttime grinding.
After performing an oral exam, we can help you find the perfect treatment strategy based on your symptoms and oral health.
Do you grind your teeth? Contact The Dental Touch in Oakland, California, to schedule an assessment today.