Do you often wake up with headaches or shooting pains in your jaw? You could be gnashing your teeth while you’re sleeping.
Teeth grinding or bruxism is common in both children and adults and not a lot of people may realize they’re doing it until their dentists spot the symptoms.
The American Dental Association says that bruxism often occurs in the early part of the night and can even disturb sleep partners. Bruxism may be mild and occasional or aggressive and frequent. While others brux loudly, others clench and grind their teeth without making a sound.
What are the symptoms of bruxism?
- dull headaches
- jaw soreness
- teeth that are painful or loose
- fractured, broken or chipped teeth
No exact explanation for why we grind our teeth has been established, but it is believed bruxism can occur due to stress and anxiety, irritation in the mouth, improper bite or misaligned teeth.
What can happen to a bruxist’s mouth?
- Frequent clenching of the teeth can cause wearing away of the tooth enamel
- Tooth sensitivity
- Teeth grinding can damage dental works like bridges and implants
- The pressure from gnashing can cause cracks or fractures in the teeth
- Teeth can become painful or loose
- Bruxists can suffer from facial pain and overall facial fatigue
- Pain in the temporomandibular joint - the joints on each side of the mouth that connect the lower jaw to the skull
How can you address the problem?
If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, it’s best to see your dentist. Your dentist will examine your teeth and look for evidence of grinding. He or she will look for broken, chipped or loose teeth and poor tooth alignment. Your dentist will also check the muscles in and around your jaw and your jaw joints.
Based on your dentist’s diagnosis, one or more treatment options can be recommended.
Treatments may include the following:
- A custom-made nightguard that you can wear while you’re sleeping.
- Orthodontic correction – if bruxism is caused by misaligned teeth or a bad bite
- Stress reduction – if the problem is caused by anxiety
- Lifestyle changes – cut back on caffeine, alcohol, stop smoking
Are you or anyone you know has bruxism? Please share your story on the comment section below.