Do your jaws ache during the day or especially when you wake up? Is your partner complaining of odd noises that disrupt their sleep? Bruxism may be to blame. If you’re unfamiliar with the term bruxism, you might recognize teeth grinding or jaw clenching. This stealthy condition often goes unnoticed because it becomes a habit and we don’t see ourselves doing it. But learning more about bruxism can help identify it, understand its causes, and find the right treatment before it causes significant damage to your smile.
What Is Bruxism
Bruxing is a health condition that prompts you to grind your teeth and clench your jaw unconsciously.
There are two types of bruxism.
- With awake bruxing, you are awake but generally unaware of the behavior.
- Sleep bruxism happens at night and can be more forceful and more dangerous for your teeth.
How Is Bruxing Identified?
How is bruxing identified if you don’t realize that you’re grinding your teeth? Sometimes, your dentist may spot the telltale damage during a visit. In other cases, you may realize something is up because you experience the symptoms of bruxism.
- Wear facets on the flat surfaces of teeth
- Fractures of the teeth
- Teeth that are loose or painful
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Jaw joints that pop, click, or lock
- Headaches—especially in the a.m.
- Pain in the face
- Sleep that is interrupted
- Reports of grinding, squeaking, or chewing sound when sleeping
- Generalized pain on one side of the face—all teeth hurting simultaneously
- Multiple teeth treated with Root Canal Therapy
What Causes Bruxing?
While awake bruxing is linked to stress, the causes of sleep bruxing are more elusive. It’s considered a sleep disorder. However, connections have also been made to bite issues, anxiety and stress, certain lifestyle habits, and various medical conditions and medications. Experts also believe that genetics may be a factor. Clearly, bruxism can be a complicated condition. Fortunately, there are treatment options for Bruxism.
The jaw muscles can deliver some severe pressure, so teeth grinding that’s left untreated can cause real damage to your oral health. It can even trigger trouble for the joints and muscles in the face, head, and neck. Taking steps to interrupt the unconscious teeth grinding and jaw clenching can prevent further dental damage and allow stressed soft tissues to heal.
Mouth guards are one of the best tools for treating bruxing. Several different types are designed explicitly for bruxers. Some are fitted to either the upper or lower teeth and, many times, both arches simultaneously. Typically made from medical-grade plastics or 3D printed, these custom-fitted oral devices provide a physical barrier that separates the teeth. When wearing a mouth guard, it shields teeth and reminds the jaw to relax whenever clenching begins. Other guards have a smaller footprint. For example, the NTI-tss Plus mouth guard only sits between the front teeth. Some guards target specific health problems sometimes associated with bruxing, including sleep apnea, temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder.
Working with a dentist is essential if you want the best results from a mouth guard. Talk to your dentist to help you select the best mouth guard for your bruxing treatment. Since mouthguards are custom-made, your dentist will ensure that it’s properly fitted and working correctly.
When you have questions about bruxism or oral health, contact Wekiva Dental. With our passion for smiles, we’re ready to deliver the dental services needed to optimize your oral health. Contact us today to learn more about us or schedule an appointment.