Why People Grind their Teeth
Have you ever caught yourself clenching your teeth during the day, or grinding your teeth at night? If so, you may have a condition called bruxism. Bruxism is the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth, and can occur when you are awake or asleep.
People develop bruxism for a variety of different reasons, including:
- Age – Bruxism is most common in children
- Stress and anxiety levels – High levels of stress or anxiety are a common cause of bruxism
- Family history – Bruxism tends to run in the family
- Medications – Some antidepressants may increase the risk of teeth grinding
- Other conditions – People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea are more likely to develop bruxism
What Happens When I Grind or Clench My Teeth?
If you don’t even notice that you grind your teeth at night, is it really that bad? As it turns out, grinding or clenching your teeth can have lasting effects on your dental health. Over time, bruxism can:
- Damage your teeth, tooth enamel, crowns, restorations, or your jaw
- Lead to frequent headaches, or pain in the face or neck
- Cause fracturing, chipping, or loosening of the teeth or crowns
- Increase your risk of developing TMJ disorder
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Because bruxism often happens at night, it can be hard to tell if you are exhibiting signs. Some people don’t know until their partner tells them! However, there are a few common symptoms of bruxism you can watch out for:
Waking up with dull headaches
Pain in the jaw, face, or neck
Increased tooth sensitivity
Increased wear on your teeth (look for visible ridges)
Fractured or chipped teeth, or teeth that appear flattened
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, give us a call as soon as possible. We’ll determine the cause of your bruxism and find the best treatment option for you.
Did You Know?
People can clench their teeth with a force of up to 250 pounds? That’s a lot of strain on the teeth! It’s hard to control the amount of force put on the teeth while asleep — that’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of bruxism and reach out to your dentist for evaluation.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Mouthguards for Teeth Grinding
Mouthguards, also referred to as night guards, are a common treatment for teeth grinding. They’re often made of hard acrylic or soft plastic and fit over your top or bottom teeth. When you go to clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night, the mouth guard acts as a barrier, protecting the teeth and jaw muscles.
There are several mouthguard options available. However, be sure to avoid boil-and-bite guards you can buy over the counter as these often do more harm than good. It’s best to talk to your dentist about a custom-made mouthguard.
If you grind your teeth because of stress or anxiety, implementing habits to help decrease these things will help treat your bruxism. Learning relaxation techniques, practicing meditation or yoga, or talking with a licensed therapist are all helpful options your dentist may recommend to help ease stress and stop your teeth grinding or clenching.
Additionally, something as simple as practicing proper teeth and jaw alignment can help. Your dentist can show you how!
Get Help For Tooth Grinding
If you suspect you grind your teeth at night or catch yourself clenching your teeth during the day, it’s time to see a dentist and avoid further damage to your teeth.
At Damonte Ranch Dental Care, Dr. Waring will evaluate your mouth and jaw, looking for signs of:
- Tooth wear
- Tenderness or tightness in the jaw
- Other damage to the teeth, jaw, and inside of your cheeks
To get an idea of the cause of your teeth grinding, he’ll ask you questions about your sleep habits, daily routine, and overall health. From there, we can develop a custom treatment plan just for you that may involve a mouthguard, lifestyle changes, or treatment to correct your bite.