You may be clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth and not even know it. That is until your jaw starts aching and popping. Many people hold chronic stress from their lives in their face, teeth, jaw, and neck. This can cause a whole host of problems, from TMJ to enamel wear or even tooth fractures.
This article looks at a very common condition called bruxism and some of the damage it can cause.
Why Bruxism is Bad
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is often an involuntary rubbing of the teeth together. It’s not seen as frequent in children as in adults. That’s probably because adults carry all kinds of stress around with them every day. There is usually a correlation between teeth grinding and stressful situations.
For adults with bruxism, they may grind their teeth during the day. However, it usually happens involuntarily when you sleep. You may wake up with an aching jaw or a headache. As your dentist, we can also check your jaws and molars for excessive wear and tear, which is a sure sign of teeth grinding.
If bruxism persists, over time, a painful condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ. TMJ is tied to arthritis, excessive wear on the teeth, and pain in the jaws, neck, and mouth. The Mayo Clinic has a great article on TMJ and they suggest eating softer foods and avoid chewing gum. You can also apply warm, moist heat or ice to the side of the face to lessen the pain. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen are a standard part of treatment.
Let’s look at a few ways to lessen the effects of bruxism before it evolves into TMJ or causes damage to your teeth.
Ways to Stop Teeth Grinding
Excessive caffeine, drug use, alcohol or tobacco use can cause teeth grinding. Helping to lessen stress by practicing mindfulness, yoga, meditation, or other stress-reduction techniques could help.
Seeking counseling to handle your stress or trying alternative therapies such as acupuncture or relaxation techniques like yoga may help.
If you’re grinding your teeth, contact us. We can fit you for a night guard appliance that is similar to the mouth guard worn in sports. It’s a non-obtrusive mechanism for helping your jaws relax at night, saving your poor teeth from grinding to shreds at night while you’re asleep.
During the appointment, we will ask you about the symptoms you’re having, such as toothaches, headaches, or jaw pain. We’ll talk about the stress you’re under and how long you’ve been experiencing the problem. Our goal is to find the right treatment for you that is unobtrusive and effective.
Contact Dr. Hadley and his team – we can help you before teeth grinding becomes a serious problem.