Are you finding that your jaw is constantly sore, or your teeth become more sensitive to temperature fluctuations? If so, you may suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. This issue is a fairly common one, and it can cause several problems with your oral health. Fortunately, there are a variety of teeth-grinding treatment options available.
If you think you may be dealing with teeth grinding, speak with your dentist about your concerns. Understanding the causes and symptoms of this common condition can be helpful, along with potential treatment options.
What is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, causes the patient to clench, grind, or gnash their teeth while awake or during sleep.1 When the grinding occurs during sleep, it’s called sleep bruxism. Sleep bruxism is particularly problematic, as it’s often more challenging to diagnose.
Prolonged and/or severe bruxism can result in some notable complications, such as damage to the teeth, TMJ disorder, and severe pain in the face and jaw. You may also suffer from frequent tension headaches.1
Teeth Grinding Symptoms
It can be reasonably clear that you suffer from bruxism if the condition is present during the day. However, if you suffer from sleep bruxism, you won’t necessarily notice the teeth grinding — just the symptoms resulting from it. These symptoms tend to include1:
- Damaged, flattened, or loose teeth
- Increased sensitivity to hot and cold
- Tooth pain
- Wearing away of tooth enamel
- Pain or soreness in the face, neck, or jaw
- Tight or sore jaw muscles
- Damage to the soft tissues of the mouth
- Dull headache
- Gum recession
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, contact your dentist immediately to begin exploring some teeth-grinding treatment options.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
It’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause of bruxism, primarily because it’s not fully understood why people involuntarily grind and clench their teeth in the first place. However, the current understanding of this condition suggests that it is typically connected with one’s emotions, particularly regarding bruxism while awake.
If you’re currently dealing with elevated stress, tension, anxiety, or frustration levels, it’s likely contributing to your teeth grinding. If the grinding occurs at night, the high-stress levels are likely associated, but it can also be related to other sleep disorders.
Genetics also play a role in bruxism, as it’s common that someone who suffers from the condition will have a family member who does as well. Naturally tense and aggressive personality types lend themselves to the condition, and certain medications and substances can cause it.
Teeth Grinding Treatment Options
If you believe you suffer from awake or sleep bruxism, there’s no need to panic. There is more than one effective treatment for teeth grinding, and the outlook for anyone who proactively seeks them is generally very positive. Here are the most common treatment options.2
Night Guards for Bruxism
One of the most popular treatments for sleep bruxism is a night guard. This simple dental device works much like a mouthguard you might wear in contact sports, except that you wear it to bed. Night guards are custom-fitted to provide you with the protection you need to get a comfortable night’s sleep without damaging your teeth and causing neck, jaw, and face issues.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Meditation
If it’s determined that your bruxism results from stress, anxiety, tension, or other emotions, your dentist may suggest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you healthily work through them. If you can reduce your daily stress and pressure, you will likely curb your teeth grinding.
Another way to reduce stress and relieve tension is to practice meditation. This can be something you do on your own, or you can attend meditation classes. Either way, a daily commitment to it can work wonders for your teeth grinding.
Exercises and Physical Therapy
You can do some jaw exercises to reduce the amount of tension in your jaw and combat bruxism.3 Simply stretching the jaw regularly or adjusting your posture may improve the condition. You can also reduce tension and stress in your body with the help of a physical therapist. They can show you how to focus on stretching your jaw and relieve some of the tightness.
Eliminating Bad Habits
Another effective treatment for teeth grinding involves considering your habits. Your dentist will review some of your patterns with you to determine whether they may contribute to your teeth grinding. Things like alcohol use and smoking are potential factors, as is excess caffeine consumption. Eliminating or reducing them may be the solution you’re looking for.
Suffering from Teeth Grinding in Albion, NY?
If you are experiencing symptoms that you think could be attributed to teeth grinding, the caring and experienced team at Albion Family Dental can diagnose your bruxism and provide you with solutions to this uncomfortable issue. We offer flexible scheduling and convenient financing options for our patients. To learn more and schedule an appointment, contact us today at 585-589-9044.