Regular brushing and flossing will greatly impact the health of your teeth, but bruxism can damage them without your knowledge. Teeth grinding or bruxism refers to the involuntarily grinding, clenching or gnashing of the teeth. It often happens during sleep, but some people also do this when they are awake. The friction causes the normal loss of substance in the teeth also known as attrition. Here are the three common signs and symptoms of teeth grinding to help you verify if you have the condition:
Grinding sound at night
During sleep, you are likely unaware that you are clenching, grinding or gnashing your teeth. The best person to ask is someone who you share a room with. The sound makes it difficult for them to sleep. If they notify you of the problem, speak with your dentist about bruxism treatment.
Painful jaw, face or ear
If you experience facial pain, earache or pain and stiffness in the jaw joint, see your dentist immediately. Damage in the temporomandibular joint and surrounding muscles can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which is a condition that affects the movement of the jaw. Although it is not serious, TMD can make eating and sleeping difficult.
Damaged teeth and injured gums
Imagine placing consistent pressure on your teeth on a daily basis. Damage and discomfort will surely follow. At first, they will feel sensitive. When you look closely, you will see that they are actually worn down. A sudden fracture or chip may even appear out of nowhere. If you have been brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, you should consider them signs and symptoms of teeth grinding.
Causes of bruxism
Teeth grinding is often tied to stress or anxiety, but there are also many other causes, including:
- Medicine: Teeth grinding can be a side effect of antidepressants such as paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline.
- Sleep disorders: If you have sleep disorders, such as sleep talking or sleep apnea, you are more likely to grind your teeth.
- Lifestyle: Alcohol drinking, smoking, recreational drugs, and caffeinated drinks also cause bruxism or make it worse.
See your dentist if:
- Your teeth are sensitive, worn or damaged
- You feel pain in your ear, face or jaw
- Your partner says you are teeth grinding in your sleep
If you think you have bruxism, speak with your dentist. They will examine your teeth, and talk about treatment options that may include repair of the damaged tooth or a special mouth guard to wear at night. The mouth splint will only help with the symptoms. It will not stop your teeth grinding. Your dentist and general practitioner will also help you manage the condition through stress management therapy, relaxation techniques, regular exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, or medications.
Do you think that you are teeth grinding at night? Do you know someone who does? Speak with a dental doctor. They will examine if the teeth and jaw show signs of teeth grinding. If they do, they will be treated immediately to avoid developing further problems like infection or dental abscess. For stress-related bruxism, the general practitioner teaches techniques to manage stress.
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