If you unconsciously, or even knowingly at times, grind or clench your teeth, you may experience a condition called bruxism. Sometimes, you may not even know you are inclined to grind your teeth, as it may only happen at night while you’re fast asleep.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, affects a wide variety of people and has many causes. Discover how this condition is linked to your dental health and your overall health too—and what you can do to find relief.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is more than just grinding your teeth. It also includes clenching your jaw, gnashing your teeth, and various, repetitive motions of the dental and facial muscles that surround your teeth and jaw.
Bruxism can be caused by these factors:
- Stress and anxiety.
- Jaw misalignment.
- Intense concentration.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Certain medications.
- Dental decay and other issues.
What Are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
Unless you’re aware that you clench or grind your teeth, you may not know you have bruxism until other signs and symptoms appear.
While symptoms vary, here are some common signs:
- Pain in the jaw or facial muscles.
- Jaw soreness and tenderness.
- Increased dental sensitivity.
- Locking or popping in the jaw joint.
- Chipped or cracked teeth.
- Weakened tooth enamel.
- Worn-down teeth.
- Headaches and earaches.
- Fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
Many of these symptoms can mimic those of other dental problems or health conditions, and just because you don’t have all of the symptoms of this condition, doesn’t mean you don’t have it.
What Are the Complications?
Bruxism is often referred to as just a bad habit, but over time it can contribute to significant issues. In the short term, symptoms such as facial pain and headaches are treatable at home. Long-term, however, it can result in chronic problems and dental deterioration.
Without treatment, bruxism can cause the following:
- Dental damage, including chipped or cracked teeth and weakened tooth enamel that can contribute to tooth decay.
- Jaw disorders, including TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder, that are often associated with pain, discomfort, and long-term conditions such as arthritis.
- Gum loss and recession due to the stress placed on gums by repetitive motion and by the potential for teeth to become loose and invite bacteria in gingival pockets.
- Bone loss caused by undue strain and pressure on the jaw bone that causes teeth to become uneven, facial tissue and muscle damage, and increased risk of periodontal disease.
What Treatment Is Effective For Bruxism?
Bruxism, especially caught in earlier stages, is easily treated. In many cases, simple lifestyle changes can address the root cause of teeth grinding, including stress reduction techniques, medication changes or adjustments, and physical therapy.
In other cases, further treatment is needed to address the symptoms of chronic teeth grinding and stop the problem from becoming worse. Your dentist may look into or suggest treatments like these:
- Custom mouth guards.
- TMJ splints.
- Facial massage.
- Botox injections.
- Orthodontic appliances.
How effective a treatment method is for you depends on several factors, including the cause of your teeth grinding, your age, your dental health, your dental structure, and your personal preferences. While the symptoms and signs of bruxism can be a source of significant discomfort, treatment can help you to cope.
Find Bruxism Relief with Vibrant Dental
If you have any of the signs and symptoms of chronic teeth grinding, find a solution to stop the problem before it gets worse. Call our practice today to schedule a consultation to discuss your symptoms, examine your dental health, and plan a treatment journey to help you relax and find relief from painful and uncomfortable bruxism. You’ll be headache-free in no time!