Bruxism is a term used to describe a habit of teeth grinding or jaw clenching that occurs to certain people as they sleep or concentrate. This condition can ultimately result in sore jaws and a higher potential for certain dental problems in the future.
But, how can you prevent it from happening? Here are some of the most common signs of bruxism and some simple suggestions to help you stop grinding your teeth.
What Causes Bruxism?
The major reason why bruxism occurs is due to stress. As we sleep, any concerns or worries you might have can lead to teeth grinding, clenching, and even TMD/TMJ pain. This is often done consciously at first but it can soon become a habit, making it harder to stop. Another reason why bruxism can occur can involve genetics, with most people who are likely to grind their teeth often inheriting it from their family.
Bruxism is also common in those who regularly use high amounts of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine. Caffeine intake often has to be high, with those experiencing symptoms often reporting that they drink 6 cups or more of coffee. Caffeine is also present is several other drinks such as soda.
Another common cause of bruxism is an abnormal bite or crooked teeth. As you sleep, you might try and align your bite but find that you’re unable to. This in turn can lead to high amounts of grinding, causing wear on your enamel.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Here are some of the most common bruxism symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Flattened teeth
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Increased sensitivity
- Tired or tight jaw muscles
- Pain in the neck, jaw, or face
- Bites in the inside of your check
Most symptoms tend to be unnoticeable until it’s too late. This is why it’s important to have regular tooth check ups to ensure the health of your teeth and identify bruxism. However, there can be some symptoms such as sore jaw muscles, sore teeth, and restless sleep in certain cases.
Are There Treatments For Bruxism?
Mouth guards are the most common way to prevent damage to your teeth as you sleep. A mouth guard is usually worn while sleeping to prevent the teeth from scraping against each other. They have to be fitted by a dental professional to ensure that it fits your mouth correctly. However, they will not fully prevent you from grinding your teeth. They will instead prevent sensitivity, tooth wear, and the need for fillings later on.
If done early, this can help prevent excessive wear to your teeth, specifically the back molars. However, if the damage is extensive then your teeth might need to restore damaged teeth by using crowns or fillings. Severe cases of bruxism might even require dental implants and even complete dentures.
Mouth splints are also available. These devices are made of harder plastic and fit precisely over your teeth. They are as effective as mouth guards for bruxism, however, they last much longer and are therefore more expensive.
If your bruxism problem is stress related, practicing yoga or meditation can help soothe you before it’s time to go to sleep. Other activities such as taking a bath, reading, or getting a massage can also help reduce stress.
What Will Happen If I Continue Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding can lead to an increased bulk up of muscles on the lower jaw, resulting on a wider appearance for your face. It can also lead to tooth enamel loss which can make teeth shorter and in certain cases increase sensitivity.
There are other effects to your health that can be caused by teeth grinding. These include headaches, earaches, and problems sleeping. This in turn can also lead to problems with your general health.
Can Children Get Bruxism?
15% – 33% of children grind or have problems with teeth grinding, with most of those being children under the age of 5. This tends to occur mostly when their baby teeth come out or when their permanent teeth come in. As a result, most children lose their habit of grinding once their teeth come in fully during their teenage years. However, it’s important to take your children to a dentist regularly, to ensure that their teeth are not suffering any problems that could affect them later in life.
What Else Can I Do If I Have Bruxism?
The most important thing you can do is to visit a dentist for your regular check-ups. By visiting your dentist on a regular schedule, they’ll be able to notice any changes in your tooth health caused by bruxism. They will then be able to suggest treatments to help keep your teeth healthy.
Visiting Lakeway Cosmetic Dentistry for regular dental cleanups and checks is essential to avoid teeth grinding. We offer a variety of dental procedures for treating damaged teeth, such as dental crowns and treatments for TMJ. Contact us today for your appointment!