Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding or jaw clenching. It happens when you clench your jaw closed and grind your teeth together, whether consciously or unconsciously. Bruxism can cause damage, discomfort and pain.
Most people grind their teeth at night while sleeping. It is more common in children than adults, and they usually grow out of it. Teeth grinding can be diagnosed by your dentist.
Grinding can wear down the teeth, causing them to become short, blunt, or fractured. Clenching puts pressure on the muscles, tissues, and other structures around the jaw.
The symptoms of teeth grinding include:
- dull headaches
- jaw soreness and stiffness
- teeth that are painful or loose
- fractured teeth
- sore gums
- clicking or popping of jaw joints
Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth during sleep. A muscle relaxer before bedtime may be recommended by your dentist or physician. Meditation, counseling and exercise can all help reduce stress and anxiety. If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit.
Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:
- Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee, especially around bedtime.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
- Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
- Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
- Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, partial dentures, implants or complete dentures may be needed. Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, causing or worsening TMD/TMJ.
Call New Town Dentistry today to determine if you have bruxism.