Everyone clenches their teeth when they’re frustrated, but for some people, this innocent habit can become a serious condition. If you find yourself suffering from worn-down teeth, a sore jaw, and mysterious headaches, you may suffer from a chronic condition known as teeth grinding or bruxism.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which you habitually grind your teeth. There are two main types of bruxism: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism (a nocturnal parafunctional habit). Awake bruxism is often associated with stress or frustration, and you’re often not aware of your actions unless someone else points them out to you. For many people, the teeth clenching serves as a coping mechanism. Grinding teeth at night is the hallmark of sleep bruxism; it usually occurs during dream states, but the exact causes of sleep bruxism aren’t well understood. Regardless of the type, bruxism is usually only a problem in extreme cases.

Teeth Grinding Symptoms

The most prominent symptom of bruxism is the audible sound of your teeth grinding against each other; you may only find out about this from your partner if you suffer from sleep bruxism. However, bruxism has other symptoms that rise in severity above an annoying noise. Severe grinding can flatten, chip or fracture your teeth. It can also weaken the enamel of your teeth, exposing the sensitive tissue inside to infection and decay, lead to root canal therapy and loss of your tooth. Neck and facial pain can also result from extreme cases of bruxism, and habitual grinders may experience persistent dull headaches. Excessive grinding can injure the jaw and make it difficult or impossible to fully close your jaw.

Who is Most at Risk from Bruxism?

Mild bruxism can be caused by stress or anxiety, but these cases of bruxism tend to be short-lived. More severe bruxism tends to run in the family. Rarely, bruxism can be a side effect of some different substances, including antidepressants, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Habitual teeth grinding can also develop as a side effect of several diseases, primarily neurological or sleep-related diseases, such as Parkinson’s, obstructive sleep apnea and epilepsy.

Teeth Grinding Treatment

The exact physical causes of bruxism aren’t well understood, and there isn’t currently a permanent cure for bruxism. Behavioral techniques can help patients learn to avoid grinding their teeth while they’re awake, but using a mouth guard for teeth grinding to physically separate the teeth is usually the best method to treat sleep bruxism. The NTI-tss Plus mouth guard rests between your front teeth, interfering with your body’s ability to grind your back teeth while you sleep. This is more efficient than using a full-mouth dental guard, which gives your canines and molars a perfect surface to grind against. Additionally, the NTI-tss Plus is smaller and more comfortable in your mouth, and the initial fitting for the device is shorter and less intrusive.

Treatment for severe bruxism is relatively painless and simple. If you are looking for a treatment for teeth grinding, contact Dr. Mark Offenback at Wekiva Dental and ask about an NTI appliance. We’ve been helping our friends and neighbors in the Longwood/Altamonte Springs area with all of their oral health needs for more than 33 years.