Do you ever wake up from a night’s sleep and find that you have some pain in your jaws or sore teeth? Well, you could be grinding your teeth. Grinding teeth is known as bruxism. Most cases of teeth grinding (almost 80%) occur subconsciously at night when sleeping. This is usually associated with some contributing factors such as anxiety or stress. Bruxism also affects people when they are awake, though this is more likely to be in the form of clenching the jaw and teeth, rather than grinding their teeth.
People may sometimes grind their teeth without necessarily causing any problems or symptoms. But persistent and regular teeth grinding may cause discomfort, jaw pain and wear your teeth down. In other cases, grinding can be cause of an earache or headache. The majority of people with bruxism assume that the condition will come and go, however, it may become more intense, especially during stressful periods. Read on to find out more about bruxism and treatment for grinding teeth.
What Causes Bruxism?
About 70% of teeth grinding that occurs during the night is thought to be associated with anxiety and stress. There is also a close connection between bruxism and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is a sleep disorder that disrupts the breathing process during sleep. The specific methodology of how these two are related is not yet known, but they definitely can be connected.
Teeth grinding can also be caused by certain medications, such as certain antidepressant and antipsychotic medication. The kind of lifestyle you lead can also be a cause for teeth grinding. Smoking, regular drinking and using recreational drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy may increase your risk of teeth grinding. This condition can also be caused by the abnormal alignment of lower and upper teeth.
How Do I Find Out I Have Bruxism?
Since most teeth grinding happen during the night when people are asleep, the majority of people are unaware that they have bruxism. However, sore teeth, jaw pain, and constant headaches are some of the symptoms. In most cases, people learn that they grind their teeth from the people who are close to them who hear the grinding at night. Other symptoms of teeth grinding include:
– Indentations on your tongue
– Damage from chewing on the inside of your tongue
– Tired or tight jaw muscles
– Increased teeth sensitivity
– Chipped, flattened, fractured or loose teeth
– Worn out teeth enamel exposing the deeper layers of your tooth
How Can I Stop Grinding My Teeth?
Once your dentist has confirmed this situation and the problem has been identified, what do you do to stop grinding? Although there is not one specific solution for this problem, there are several treatments that you can implement to help manage it and hopefully help prevent further damage. If you realize that increased stress is the primary cause for your teeth grinding, ask your dentist or doctor about options to help manage your stress. There are many ways to help decrease your stress level, such as attending counseling sessions, daily exercise, stretching, deep breathing techniques, starting a sport or hobby you enjoy, taking yoga classes, taking a walk, getting a pet, etc. The most popular and widely used treatment for teeth grinding include:
Custom Night Guard
These mouth guards you will put in before you go to sleep at night to guard you against teeth grinding. They are not to be confused with the mouth guards that athletes wear while playing sports. The idea behind the custom night guard is that people will continue grinding their teeth at night, but they will not damage their jaw and teeth. A custom night guard is made by a dentist, who measures your mouth and builds a guard that fits your specific dental profile. This guard is custom made for you and cannot be used by any other person because it will not fit.
Another effective way to treat jaw grinding is by exercising the jaw on a daily basis. A chiropractor or physical therapist can recommend specifically targeted types of exercise but here are a few general exercises that you can start with:
– Put the tongue on the roof of the mouth and open and close
– Put your thumb and the forefinger on the front of the chin, push your jaw out, in that your hand moves forward.
– Position your finger just inside the mouth and let your jaw go slack.
Other treatments for grinding teeth include:
– Getting more sleep
– Consciously relaxing the jaw and the face during the day
– Avoiding caffeine, which can make you tense and jumpy
– Avoiding alcohol, which raises the urge to clench the teeth
– Not chewing gum or any other objects, such as ice
– Drinking more water
Remember, the first thing to do if you feel you are grinding your teeth, is to go see your dentist for a thorough checkup. Your dentist will then recommend a specific course of action, which may include a custom mouth guard. Chronic grinding of your teeth can not only lead to problems with your teeth, appearance and oral health, but it can also lead to other health issues such as TMJ, sleep apnea, earaches, headaches, etc. Take action in the early stages so you will prevent chronic, persistent health problems.
If you live in or near the Boca Raton area, Dr. Halina Montano can not only help you address your teeth grinding issues, but will also help you correct any damage that may have already been caused. Dr. Montano is one of South Florida’s top cosmetic dentists and is committed to helping her clients achieve their best smile and oral health! Call HSM Dental Group today at 561-232-2070 and set up your appointment. Don’t wait another day to Stop the Grind!