A very common dental habit among our dental patients is clenching or grinding their teeth, especially at night time. This habit is known as bruxism, and it can be very painful and even destructive. Patients that have the signs and symptoms of bruxism may not realize that treatment is available. Here are a few of the warning signs to look for if you suspect you are clenching and/or grinding your teeth:
- Soreness or discomfort in your jaw or teeth upon waking
- Clicking or popping of the joints in your jaw (often referred to as the TMJ)
- Unexplained headaches
- Family members hear you grinding your teeth while you sleep
- Excessive wear in areas teeth contact one another
If you feel you may be experiencing bruxism, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will examine your teeth for excessive wear as well as check your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) for soreness and loss of mobility. Left untreated, bruxism can damage teeth to the point that restorations are needed, cause mobility of individual teeth, or even cause tooth loss. Your dentist will also try to determine what might be causing you to clench or grind your teeth. These causes could include stress, a non-ideal bite, sleep apnea, and even certain medicines. During your appointment, your dentist may recommend treatment such as an occlusal night guard. This appliance helps lessen the damage to your teeth by preventing your teeth from touching while you sleep. Other treatments may include stress management or a referral to a specialist.
The bottom line is: if left untreated, bruxism can cause permanent changes to your teeth and TMJ. Scheduling an appointment with a dentist is the best place to start in determining what might be causing your bruxism and help you find the proper treatment.
If you feel you might be dealing with this condition, please don’t hesitate to give us a call here at MCHD Dentistry- we may be able to get you out of the “Daily Grind”.