Bruxism is the dental term for teeth grinding and clenching. There are a variety of possible causes. Anxiety and stress are usually involved, though they don’t have to be. Certain sports, like weightlifting, cause the participants to clench their teeth. Most bruxers don’t even realize they’re grinders until their dentist tells them he sees signs of it. That’s because most bruxism occurs in our sleep.
What are Some Signs of Teeth Grinding?
- Pain in your jaw: When you clench your teeth it tightens up your jaw muscles and puts tension on your temporomandibular joint. This can lead to TMJ disorder.
- Headaches and migraines: This is more common when you first wake up in the morning if you’re a night grinder.
- Wear and damage to your teeth: This could take the form of chipped teeth, worn teeth (some are worn down to nubs), and even fractured teeth. Your dentist should be checking for signs of bruxism during your exams.
What is the Treatment for Bruxism?
If the damage isn’t too severe, all that will be needed will be to protect the teeth. Since most of the damage occurs during sleep, wearing a night guard (pictured at the left) is the most effective protection.
Fabricating the Night Guard
Two simple appointments are involved. In the first, we will take impressions of your teeth, and in the second we will deliver the night guard. The rest of the work is done in the laboratory. The night guard is made so that it snaps over your upper teeth and creates a balanced bite with your lower teeth to minimize stress in your jaw muscles and your TMJ. It will prevent any grinding and relax your jaw during the night.
Some people are attracted by over-the-counter varieties of night guards available in drug stores. However, while these products prevent contact between the upper and lower teeth, they don’t provide any of the balance to your bite. As such, they’re rarely comfortable and most patients will soon give up on wearing them.
Nothing Else May Be Needed
Caught early enough, simply protecting your teeth may be all you need.
Lacking this protection, serious damage to the teeth is possible. Some people wear the teeth down severely, which can require treatments as expensive as crowning all the teeth. Breaking of the teeth can also occur. In some cases, teeth can be damaged so much that they are unrestorable. The night guard is a simple, effective prevention.
If you’re concerned that you may be grinding your teeth, you may contact our office and Dr. Root can evaluate your bite.