Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is an extremely common condition that causes a person to clench and grind his or her teeth. It can be involuntary or habitual, and it typically occurs at night, so you may not even be aware that you suffer from it. However, if you often experience dull headaches, suffer from a tired jaw, or notice eroded tooth enamel, you may grind your teeth. This condition can lead to severe issues, including jaw disorders and damaged teeth. If you know or suspect that you have bruxism, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Your dentist can assess the issue and offer an effective teeth-grinding treatment to preserve your oral health.
What Causes Bruxism?
Before your dentist can select the best teeth-grinding treatment for your needs, he or she will assess your teeth and ask about your symptoms. In many cases, we do not know why someone grinds their teeth: they simply do. Experts theorize that the problem may be associated with sleep disorders (like sleep apnea), stress, or anxiety. In other cases, bruxism results from an abnormal bite or missing teeth.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Bruxism produces a variety of physical symptoms. When you clench your teeth, your jaw muscles become tight, which affects your entire face. You may experience pain along your jaw line or wake with dull headaches, especially if you grind your teeth during the night. Also, you may feel like you have an earache.
Inside your mouth, you will notice signs as well. For example, you may have indentations on your tongue or bite marks on the inside of your cheeks. Over time, you may experience heightened tooth sensitivity. You may wear down your enamel and notice that your teeth appear flatter and shorter than normal. In severe cases, your teeth may begin to chip or loosen.
Selecting a Teeth-Grinding Treatment
How to Treat Bruxism
When you visit your dentist, he or she will be able to properly diagnose the condition. To select the right treatment for you, your dentist may consider your symptoms, the severity of the issue, and your personal preferences.
The most common treatment for teeth grinding is a mouth guard, typically made out of a flexible rubber or plastic. Your dentist can customize the device, so that it molds to your mouth and physically separates your teeth, making grinding impossible. This is especially helpful at night, when bruxism can occur involuntarily. Mouth guards can also reduce any grinding noises you may make. Similar in function and effectiveness, mouth splints are made of a harder plastic and fit over your upper or lower teeth. They last longer than mouth guards, but they also cost more. Although both mouth guards and mouth splints can help you protect your teeth and control your bruxism, they do not cure the condition.
If misaligned or missing teeth cause you to clench your teeth, your dentist can fix the problem to alleviate the bruxism. For example, you may need to have your chewing surfaces reshaped, a missing tooth replaced, or your bite corrected.
In some cases, behavioral therapies may be used to relieve the symptoms of bruxism. For example, if anxiety or stress lie at the root of your bruxism, you may wish to pursue relaxation techniques to alleviate both the anxiety/stress and the bruxism. For example, you may find relief through meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. Sometimes people find that staying away from caffeine before bed, avoiding alcohol, and stopping smoking help them with bruxism as well. All of these habits stimulate the brain and can lead to teeth grinding.
How to Get Started
As soon as you notice that you suffer from bruxism, contact your dentist to pursue an effective teeth-grinding treatment. If left untreated, the condition can lead to pain and irreversible tooth damage. Using a mouth guard, undergoing dental modifications, and/or engaging in behavioral therapy may help you prevent further damage. With a little initiative, you can address the issue and prevent your negative symptoms.
Do you grind your teeth? If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist to provide you with a teeth-grinding treatment, contact Wilkinson Dental of Springfield, Missouri. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. Schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!