Has your partner ever told you that you grind your teeth at night? Many people suffer from a condition called bruxism that causes them to grind or clench their teeth, especially while they are sleeping. Most people are completely unaware of this behavior since it occurs when they are unconscious.
However, over time, this tremendous amount of pressure on your teeth will take a toll in the form of damage. It’s important to know the warning signs of bruxism, how it’s caused, and the potential consequences so you can get it under control before you seriously harm your teeth.
Bruxism is the act of habitually grinding your teeth while you sleep at night. It is often a stress response and can be caused by high levels of anxiety. Some symptoms of bruxism include facial and jaw pain, stiffness in the jaw, headaches around the temples, teeth that are chipped, loose, or flat, enamel erosion, and tooth sensitivity.
If you have dental work such as dental fillings, these can also become damaged or fall out. Bruxism may disrupt your sleep because you are applying significantly more pressure to your jaw and teeth than you would if you were eating. It is also closely associated with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and sleep talking.
Unfortunately, there are many consequences to habitual teeth grinding over the long term. Bruxism can cause damage to your teeth, such as wearing away the enamel, chipping, cracking, or breaking teeth, causing dental work to become damaged or loose, and even causing tooth loss.
Bruxism also comes with a lot of pain in your teeth, jaw, or head. If your teeth become consistently worn down, the tooth's nerves can become exposed which increases your risk of dental infections and abscesses.
Teeth grinding will also cause significant damage to dental implants, bridges, and crowns which are not cheap to replace. Enamel erosion and damage to the teeth can also increase tooth sensitivity. The strenuous pressure on your jaw can cause temporomandibular disorders or worsen them which can lead to changes in the facial structure.
Some medications can cause teeth grinding as a side effect but the biggest causes are anxiety, stress, and sleep disorders. You are also more likely to grind your teeth if you regularly consume caffeine or alcohol, are a smoker, or use drugs. If you experience high levels of negative emotion such as stress, anger, and anxiety, bruxism could be a coping mechanism that occurs while you sleep.
Because grinding your teeth is a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, and anger, the best solution is to challenge the source of negative emotion. To reduce teeth grinding, you should try to reduce negative emotions by practicing stress relief in the form of exercise, meditation, or even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
You should cut down or completely cut out caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and tobacco use. If you’re someone who catches themselves grinding or clenching their teeth during the day, make an outward effort to relax your jaw by placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth.
You should wear a mouthguard at night while you sleep to reduce the wear and tear on your teeth. If you play contact sports, it’s a good idea to wear one while you play them.
If you suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, snoring, or talking disorders, you should see a sleep specialist and get these problems treated. If bruxism is listed as a side effect of a medication you take, speak to your doctor about switching to a different medication or how you can reduce these symptoms.
At Precision Dental, we may prescribe an orthodontic treatment or other dental procedures to address bite problems, tooth misalignment, or TMD/TMJ disorders associated with teeth grinding.
If you have cracked, broken, or loose teeth as a result of grinding, we can restore or repair your teeth and dental work with restorative dentistry. Contact us today or schedule an appointment in Bowling Green with Dr. Bryan Packard.