Are you a teeth grinder? Do you clench your teeth when under stress during the day, or are you waking your husband or wife up at night with the grinding noise?
These days, life is moving at a fast pace and people are under more stress. In our practice, we have seen that a symptom of that stress — teeth grinding, also known as bruxism— is on the rise. Bruxism is simply a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth without even knowing it.
Other than keeping your partner awake at night, bruxism can cause:
- worn down, flattened, fractured or chipped teeth
- worn tooth enamel that exposes deeper layers of your tooth
- tired jaw muscles, jaw pain or tightness
- sensitive teeth
- headaches and earaches
- chronic facial pain
- damage from chewing the inside of your cheek
- indentations in your tongue
Teeth grinding my be caused by psychological distress, such as anger, anxiety, frustration or stress. Often, however, it is caused by a physical reason such as abnormal alignment of teeth, abnormal bite, missing teeth or crooked teeth. It can also be causes by a condition such as Parkinson’s disease or a side effect of some medications. In addition, your risk for bruxism is increased if you smoke, drink a lot of caffeine or take illegal drugs.
Grinding your teeth can cause headaches, face pain, damage to your teeth and tempomandibular disorders (TMJ). If you are experiencing bruxism, see a dentist who can help with diagnosis and treatment. At Enlighten Dental, we will check for signs of bruxism and try to determine the cause and whether you need treatment.
If there is a sleep disorder or a significant psychological reason for your teeth grinding, we will recommend seeing the appropriate therapist or sleep specialist. If the problem is a physical one with your teeth, we can work to correct the problem and provide treatment to help protect your teeth and jaws: A custom splint is your best protection. The splint is constructed of a hard acrylic to fit over your upper and lower teeth. In addition, we can create custom mouth guards, which are softer than splints; however, these can dislodge during teeth grinding.
Don’t let teeth grinding create more stress in your life by causing dental problems. Relaxation techniques, exercise, therapy and sometimes alternative medicine and sometimes medications may help. The first step is to see your dentist and find a way to protect your teeth from the wear and tear that bruxism can cause. Other tips to reduce teeth grinding include:
- Avoid foods and drinks with caffeine.
- Avoid alcohol, which may intensify teeth grinding.
- If you feel yourself clenching your teeth during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth to relax your jaw.
- Don’t chew gum or on anything other than food.
- Hold a warm washcloth to your jaw to help you relax jaw muscles.
For more information on bruxism, contact Enlighten Dental