If you wake up with headaches or jaw pain, you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night.
The dental term for such grinding and clenching is bruxism. Bruxism is a common dental issue, with nearly 10% of all people suffering night bruxism.
Although bruxism isn’t talked about much, it can be quite destructive to dental health, and that’s why Comfort Dental Centre Buderim would like to introduce bruxism, what causes it, what effects it can have, and how to treat it.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is an unconscious act of grinding or clenching teeth tightly together. Bruxism comes in two kinds: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. The two types are different, other than when they take place, in that the damage caused by sleep bruxism is usually much more serious. They are further different from each other in terms of causes and prevalence. One important difference is that women are more likely have awake bruxism while sleep bruxism is gender neutral.
How harmful is bruxism?
There’s no doubt that there can be harmful effects of teeth grinding. Here’s a look at the potential consequences:
Teeth grinding. The damage done by teeth grinding can range from mere annoyance to grave problems that require the immediate care of a dentist. The biggest concern is bruxism’s cumulative effect: Year of untreated bruxism will grind down your teeth, creating the need for complicated dental treatment.
Side effects include:
- Loose teeth
- Lost teeth
- Tooth fracture
- Eroded teeth and enamel
- Receding gums
- Aching jaws
- Recurring headaches
- Tooth pain
- Developing jaw joint disorders (TMD)
One study found that while the average person’s tooth enamel erodes by about 0.3 millimeters every decade, teeth grinders can wear this much enamel away in one-and-a-half years.
Sleep and bruxism. Bruxism often takes place during sleep, and there are a number of sleep conditions tied to this behavior, including sleep apnea. Apnea is a chronic disorder in which sleep is disrupted by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing.
Almost a quarter of sleep apnea sufferers also grind their teeth.
Teeth and Jaw Clenching. Teeth/jaw clenching occur when you hold your mouth tightly in the same position. This clenching can have a negative effect on jaw muscles. They become sore and tired from overuse, and disorders can arise from long-term clenching. Teeth and jaw clenching often progresses from chronic jaw tension to chronic headaches.
Clenching is most often tied to stress, but habitual chewing on other things, including gum, pencils, or pens can also lead to clenching. For this reason bruxism suffers are often recommend to avoid chewing gum or other habitual chewing.
TMJ. TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which connects your skull and your jawbone in a kind of hinge. It’s the area of the mouth bruxism sufferers clench, and this clenching can cause TMJ disorders (TMD).
Bruxism is a leading cause for many TMJ disorders. Symptoms may include:
- An aching face or jawline
- Soreness in or near the ear
- Tenderness of the jaw
- Locking of the joint, preventing the opening or closing of the mouth
- Pain while chewing
- Clicking or grating when the mouth is opened
What Causes Bruxism?
The most common reason for bruxism is thought to be stress and anxiety. Studies have reported a higher incidence of bruxism, especially night bruxism, in people with high stress. Other factors include interferences in a person’s bite or missing and crooked teeth leading to an unstable bite. Also, interferences in sleep and sleep apnea can lead to bruxism.
How does Comfort Dental Centre Buderim treat bruxism?
Because causes and severity of bruxism vary, so does treatment. Mild bruxism is treated with jaw exercises and stress avoidance. We provide jaw exercises to our patients and fabricate night splints/guards to protect teeth during sleep.
A night guard is a protective device worn in the mouth to prevent the teeth from clashing during sleep. Each night guard is custom-fitted to the patient’s dimensions to ensure that it won’t fall out during sleep.
For teeth that are already affected by bruxism, we also have restorative options like tooth fillings.
Treatment for associated disorders may include:
- Medications. If bruxism is the side effect of a drug, your doctor may change your medication.
- Sleep-related disorders. Addressing sleep-related disorders may improve sleep bruxism.
- Medical conditions. If an underlying medical condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is identified as the cause, treating this condition may improve bruxism.
Comfort Dental Centre Buderim
Comfort Dental Centre Buderim provides expert care for healthy, beautiful smiles. When you leave our office not only will you be happy with the treatment you received, but also how well you were treated.
We serve patients from Buderim and surrounding areas with top-notch dentistry. Our dental practice in Buderim provides the highest quality of dental care, in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, with a commitment to excellent customer service.
Same day emergency appointment available