If you wake up with a headache, sore teeth, or painful jaw, it is very likely that you are grinding your teeth unknowingly.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is the regular clenching of jaws and grinding of teeth together unconsciously.
People of all ages grind their teeth more or less at some point of the day. But it also happens unconsciously while you are asleep.
While you are concentrating on a task or watching something intently, you might apply pressure on both upper and lower structures via a contraction of the jaw muscles.
It can happen during tasks such as lifting weights, driving, reading or writing. When it happens while you’re sleeping, there is rhythmic clenching and contracting.
How Do You Know That You Are Grinding Your Teeth?
Teeth grinding often occurs during sleep, so most people are unaware of it until told by their dentist. A very common symptom is a headache. There are other symptoms too:
- a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a sure shot sign of bruxism
- muscle pain
- enlargement of facial muscles,
- temporomandibular joint discomfort(TMJ),
- stiffness of the shoulders and neck
- ear pain
- sleep disorders
- adverse effects on teeth like abnormal wear and tear.
Oral health is adversely affected by bruxism and it might result in fracture or tooth loss.
If you think you might be grinding your teeth, speak to your dentist at Kirkland Premier Dentistry. He will examine your mouth for signs of bruxism and suggest remedies to save your teeth from adversities.
How does grinding affect your teeth? - The Disadvantages
There are many disadvantages of bruxism such as pain, headache, tooth fracturing, loosening, or loss of your pearly whites. Chronic clenching wears these dental structures down and even changes the appearance of your face.
Eventually, it means you will damage your teeth and may need bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, or even complete dentures.
The patients mostly seek treatment when the pain extends to the ears or when your oral doctor detects the symptoms of grinding.
How Can We Prevent Bruxism?
Bruxism and grinding must be stopped and prevented to protect your teeth and jawline. The most common remedies are:
- Stress & anxiety management. Stress is a common reason for bruxism. You should control the stress levels with the techniques for relaxation with yoga and meditation. You may even be referred to a therapist or counselor.
- At Kirkland premier dentistry we fit patients with a mouth guard that can be worn at night to prevent the clenching of teeth during sleep.
- Attend stress busing sessions such as a workout with a physical therapist
- obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants
Treatment for Bruxism
The below approaches may bring you relief from bruxism:
1. Behavior Changes- Once you know that you have bruxism, you should practice maintaining a stable mouth and jaw position. Your dentist can help you teach the best position for your mouth and jaw.
2. Biofeedback- In case you are having a difficult time changing your habits, you may use biofeedback, a remedy that uses monitoring processes and equipment to make you learn to control the muscle activity in your jaw.
3. Medication- Muscle relaxants can help you relax your jaw and stop grinding while sleeping. If you consume antidepressants you might need to change your prescription. Your doctor can give you other drugs that don't come with the risk of bruxism.
4. Procedures: In severe cases, botox injections are used to paralyze the jaw muscles that are utilized during teeth grinding.
This treatment may not be approved in some countries but is proven safe, very effective, and preserves the appearance of the face.
5. Stress Management- Your psychologist can identify the triggers for your anxiety and deal with them through stress management and relaxation techniques.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
According to the Bruxism Association, the causes are:-
- Stress And Anxiety
- Heavy Alcohol
- Sleep Disorders
However, there isn’t enough evidence to directly support these causes. Studies have shown that teeth grinding is found more commonly in people who snore at night or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
At Kirkland Premier Dentistry Dr. Gaurav Sharma has 400+ hours of Continuing education from the prestigious AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry) He applies for the latest research & advances in dentistry to provide the best dental care to patients.
It has been found that most teeth clenchers do it due to stress. The treatment approach is based on addressing the underlying causes of stress.
At Kirkland Premier Dentistry, we encourage patients to try and reinvent themselves and separate the habit of teeth-grinding from the stresses that may be causing it- maybe work or personal situations.
It is not about avoiding the stress that is part of a normal life, but how to protect your physical body from being harmed.