Bruxism and Teeth Grinding: 7 Essential Things to Know
Bruxism is a habitual condition that involves grinding and clenching the teeth, typically during sleep. While occasional teeth grinding isn’t a problem, chronic bruxism can lead to dental issues that can cause problems over time. Here’s how to know whether grinding your teeth is normal or if you should seek treatment for your bruxism.
1. What is bruxism?
Bruxism is a condition of involuntary clenching, grinding and gnashing of teeth that usually happens while you are asleep. It can also happen while you are awake, although for most sufferers this is less common. People with bruxism are often unaware of their habit unless they experience symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches or tooth sensitivity.
2. Is excessive grinding bad for your teeth?
Bruxism can have a bad effect on your teeth and oral health. Some people may wake with constant pain in their jaw that lingers throughout the day. The constant grinding and clenching exert pressure on the teeth, which leads to enamel wear, chipping and even fractures.
Over time, this can result in sensitive teeth, changes in the appearance of your teeth, and an increased risk of tooth decay. Bruxism can also put strain on the jaw muscles causing TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders and facial pain.
3. How do I know if I grind my teeth or suffer from bruxism?
If you think you might be grinding your teeth at night, here are some symptoms you can look out for:
- Teeth appear worn down or flattened. Lifelong grinding can lead to a flatter appearance of your teeth as the top and bottom rows grind together and cause the enamel to wear down. This can be particularly hard to spot if you aren’t familiar with what your teeth look like as it happens slowly over time.
- Tooth sensitivity. Your teeth may feel sensitive against hot and cold temperatures.
- Grinding your teeth. If you notice that you grind and clench your teeth out of habit during the day, you could be doing it at night without knowing it.
- Jaw pain. If you wake up with jaw pain and experience facial soreness, headaches and pain that seems to radiate from a clenched jaw, you could be grinding your teeth at night.
- Earaches and ringing ears. Because your ears, nose, mouth and throat are all connected, pain in your ears can be connected to chronically clenching your jaw.
- A chipped tooth. If you have even suffered from a chip to any of your teeth that was unrelated to an injury it could have been caused by excessive grinding.
4. When should you seek treatment for teeth grinding?
If you notice yourself occasionally clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth while you are awake, it’s probably nothing to worry about. When tooth grinding starts to affect your life, it’s important to see your dentist. You should consider seeing a dentist if you’ve noticed:
- Changes in the appearance of your teeth
- Persistent jaw pain
- Regular headaches or earaches
- Sleep disturbances that affect your quality of life
- Jaw pain or the feeling of bruising when you wake up
- Pain when you open your mouth wide
- Other people comment that you often grind your teeth
Even if you don’t think your jaw grinding habit is a problem, you can book an appointment with a dentist at any time to get checked out. They can recommend treatment that might help you, even if you don’t suffer from bruxism.
5. What are the treatments for bruxism?
Since there are different underlying causes of bruxism or teeth grinding, there are a range of treatments that can help. Mild forms of bruxism may not need treatment but people who chronically grind their teeth should seek treatment. Changes to your lifestyle can be just as effective as dental interventions.
- One simple remedy for teeth grinding is to wear a mouthguard when you sleep. A customised mouthguard helps create a protective barrier between your teeth and cushions the impact of grinding and reduces wear on your teeth.
- Stress Management
- Teeth grinding is often the result of stress. Many people hold stress in their jaw and clenching and grinding their teeth is a symptom of this. Lowering your stress and anxiety levels can help. There isn’t usually a quick fix to making your life less stressful, but you may be grinding your teeth in response to stressors in your life right now.
- TMJ Disfunction
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ syndrome can be painful and could be an underlying reason for jaw clenching and grinding. TMJ issues are usually accompanied by constant jaw pain, difficulty chewing and locking your jaw joint. It can be caused by poor teeth alignment, injuries or stem from a dislocated jaw.
- Botox is an effective treatment for teeth grinding as it freezes the muscles responsible for causing tension in the jaw. An ongoing Botox treatment plan can help relieve jaw pain and prevent bruxism.
6. How can you prevent bruxism?
Avoiding stimulants, like coffee, can also make you more relaxed before you go to bed and might stop you from griding your teeth. Getting enough nutrients can also help. Vitamins B and C, calcium and magnesium all play a vital role in managing the body’s stress response. Managing your stress levels with yoga, meditation and regular exercise can also help.
Wearing a mouthguard at night can also help, but the best thing to do is see your dentist. Regular checkups with a dentist will ensure that any signs of wearing or grinding on your teeth are picked up before it becomes a real problem.
7. Book a dentist appointment
If you are experiencing jaw pain or clenching of the jaw at night, book an appointment now at Gentle Dental.