The Ins and Outs (and Ouch) of Teeth Grinding

The Ins and Outs (and Ouch) of Teeth Grinding
dental care

While it’s normal to clench your teeth from time to time, engaging in this act chronically can lead to adverse health issues.

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common issue that stems from chronic grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw. More often than not, the person with bruxism doesn’t realize that they’re doing it. Without intervention, this might result in tooth damage, gum issues, chronic headaches, and worse.

Here’s what you should know about this common health issue and how your local dentist can help provide the proper dental care.

What is bruxism?

As mentioned previously, bruxism is the unconscious grinding, clenching, or gnashing of your teeth. Some people even perform these acts when they’re awake, though it most commonly occurs when an individual is asleep. This type of sleep-related disorder means that there’s little control over the movement, making it difficult to control and even harder to cope with the side effects of the disorder.

There’s no single cause for bruxism but it’s estimated that up to one in three people may cope with the condition. Most people who experience teeth grinding perform the movement due to high levels of stress or anxiety. However, some people may experience bruxism because of a misaligned jaw. Because this disorder is categorized as a sleep issue, it commonly occurs with other sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea, all of which can feed into each other.

The harm of bruxism

Bruxism is often overlooked in lieu of more serious dental health conditions, but this disorder can lead to serious harm over the long term. For example, many people who suffer from the condition have frequent tension headaches, facial pain, and might even suffer from tooth loss. If you have previously established crowns or implants, these dental care tools might also be damaged.

People with bruxism might also face further jaw complications, like TMJ. This condition results in jaw pain and a clicking noise when the person opens and closes their jaw. Stopping this condition in its tracks is the best way to prevent further damage.

How can I tell if I grind my teeth?

Most people who grind their teeth during the day do it between unconscious or stressful tasks. This could happen when you’re focused on driving but it might also happen when you’re performing a monotonous activity at work. These individuals are better able to monitor their bruxism and stop grinding their teeth when they notice it. However, sleep bruxism might be a little more difficult to diagnose.

Most people who have bruxism will notice head or jaw pain when they wake up in the morning. Of course, headaches could be caused by a range of factors, including allergies, heat, or just a poor night’s sleep. However, frequent headaches paired with jaw pain indicates a higher propensity toward bruxism. It’s not uncommon for a nighttime teeth grinder to experience higher levels of tooth sensitivity and pain, as well. People who sleep with a partner are typically able to hear teeth grinding and alert them in the morning.

Your dental care provider can typically determine if you have bruxism through a simple oral exam. They often look for signs of chipped or flattened teeth, facial soreness, worn enamel, and other indicators of bruxism. When your dentist diagnoses you with the disorder, you can start taking preventative measures against it.

Stopping bruxism in its tracks

The best way to stop sleep bruxism is by wearing a mouth guard or other form of oral retainer. This provides a buffer between the teeth, reducing the level of grinding and tooth damage.

Regardless, the best way to stop bruxism is by engaging in stress-reducing activities. This might include avoiding stressful interactions or by establishing healthy coping mechanisms throughout the day. Many others have found that yoga and meditation can help focus the mind and reduce anxiety, especially before bed when bruxism is likely to occur.

You should also optimize your bedroom for healthy sleeping habits. Never fall asleep with the television on and try to stop looking at screens at least one hour before bed. When you get more quality sleep, you’re more likely to feel less stressed and more energized.

While there’s no secret formula to stopping bruxism, you can rest assured knowing that you can rely on your local dental care facility. The dentists at Lake Ridge Dental care about the quality of your mouth — and your life. For more information, visit us today.

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