Do you grind your teeth? It may be affecting your health.
Are you grinding your teeth in your sleep or during the day? If so, there are solutions. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a condition that affects approximately 50% of all adults. It can cause issues like TMJ, chronic headaches and the wearing down or cracking of your teeth.
When someone has bruxism, there’s often the belief that it will “go away” over time. And in many cases, the condition does come and go, making it easier for sufferers to believe it’s a normal part of life. But teeth grinding can adversly affect your health, so it’s important to speak with your dentist even if you’re only experiencing mild bruxism.
What are the different types of bruxism?
Essentially, there are two types, each of which can be mild, severe or somewhere in-between.
This is exactly what it sounds like — grinding of the teeth while you sleep. What happens is that an individual will grind his or her teeth somewhere between 5-15 seconds multiple times during the night. Some individuals also experience teeth clenching in addition to grinding. Sleep bruxism can occur intermittently, sometimes lasting or disappearing for long periods of time.
Caused by things like stress and anxiety, daytime bruxism is predominantly associated with clenching of the teeth, as opposed to actual grinding.
How does this condition affect my oral health?
Depending on its severity, teeth grinding and clenching may cause the following conditions:
Wearing Down of Teeth
Teeth flattening or fracturing can occur because of bruxism. In fact, in some cases patients will need dental crowns in order to save one or more of their teeth.
Bruxism and Teeth Clencing Can Cause TMJ
An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorder, which is caused by bite misalignment that originates at the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). Symptoms include chronic headaches, migraines and tinnitus. Learn more about TMJ and its treatment options.
Additional Issues that Bruxism Can Cause
- Tightness or pain in the face or jaw, which is a very common symptom upon awakening in the morning
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Bruises or cuts on the inside of your cheeks
- Tension or pain in the neck or shoulders
- Teeth sensitivity
- Cracked fillings
- Loose teeth
- Bruxism has also been linked to sleep apnea
What can I do about teeth grinding and clenching?
If you’re experiencing one or more of these issues, don’t dismay! Your First Choice Dentist can help you determine which course of action is best for you.
Solutions that help with teeth grinding & clenching include:
The Night Guard
Speak with your dentist about a night guard, also referred to as a bite guard. These are custom-made, strong plastic teeth protectors that you wear during the night. Since they’re custom made, they fit your teeth perfectly, so most patients find them comfortable after a brief adjustment period. A night guard is approximately 1/8” thick, and can be made to fit the upper or lower teeth. When used regularly, it is a tremendous help in reducing bruxism.
If your dentist diagnoses you with TMJ, you can choose to receive TMJ therapy, which can provide relief from issues like chronic headaches, migraines, tinnitus and tooth sensitivity.
Behavior & stress therapy can also be utilized to treat teeth grinding and clenching. Geared towards individuals who are experiencing daytime bruxism, stress therapy provides relaxation techniques, mouth/jaw positioning exercises and behavior therapy. This therapy can help lower anxiety and help define root causes of why an individual is grinding or clenching their teeth.
Simply being aware of your body and how it feels can go a long way in helping you form new, healthier habits. Work on being mindful of where you experience pain or tension in your body throughout the day. If you catch yourself clenching your teeth, replace this habit with something positive like taking a deep breath or standing up for a quick stretch.
Thank you for visiting First Choice Dental! If you’re experiencing bruxism, feel free to make an appointment with one of our dentists at any of our locations, or simply give us a call at 608-848-5366.