Teeth Grinding Can Destroy Your Teeth
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common dental problem which can do serious damage to your teeth when left untreated. In most cases, teeth grinding is a minor issue that does not need to be treated, but there are severe cases that can cause jaw problems, wear teeth down extremely quickly, and cause frequent headaches.
Many individuals who suffer from bruxism grind or clench their teeth in their sleep (sleep bruxism), and can be unaware of it even occurring. A dull headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a strong indicator that you might be grinding your teeth during sleep.
If you’re looking for experienced help with bruxism, then give us a call today at Carson & Carson, the expert Oxnard dentist with over 45 years of experience (805) 983-0717.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Since bruxism occurs for many people when they are not awake, it can be hard to identify whether teeth grinding is the cause of your dental troubles. Understanding the symptoms of teeth grinding for can help you spot early signs of bruxism and help prevent the damage that it may cause to your teeth if it continues untreated.
Common symptoms of bruxism include:
- Audible grinding or clenching of teeth that may be loud enough to wake you or your partner
- Flattened, chipped, loose, fractured, or damaged teeth
- Diminishing tooth enamel resulting in more exposure of the yellow dentin layer of teeth
- Tired, tight, or sore jaw muscles from rigorous clenching or grinding of teeth
- Torn or damaged cheek tissue in your mouth from being chewed on
- Headache in the temples that often occurs during sleep or when you wake up
Those suffering from bruxism may experience all or a few of these symptoms, many of which can be caused from other dental issues making the diagnosis of teeth grinding more difficult. Understanding the symptoms and getting treatment is important because severe, untreated bruxism can turn your teeth into unusable stubs or cause you to lose them altogether.
Causes of Bruxism
The direct cause of bruxism is not completely clear, but there are a number of factors which put you at higher risk for grinding your teeth. Awake bruxism may be the result of anxiety, stress, or tension while sleep bruxism can be more hereditary or related to sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Understanding how many risk factors affect you may help you get a better idea of whether or not bruxism is something that may affect you in your lifetime.
The major risk factors for bruxism include:
- Age: Bruxism is a common problem for young children where roughly 15-30% grind their teeth, but this issue tends to disappear as they age into the teen years and adulthood. As baby teeth and permanent teeth erupt from the gums, this can commonly cause the onset of bruxism in children.
- Malocclusions: Alignment issues between the upper and lower jaw are common precursor conditions to bruxism. Having misaligned or crooked teeth can also contribute to the occurrence of teeth grinding.
- Negative Emotions or Stress: Anxiety, frustration, and anger are emotions that increase the risk of bruxism.
- Drug Abuse & Medications: Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, ingesting caffeine, and some recreational drug use can be risk factors for both awake and sleep bruxism. There are also a few antidepressants which can have bruxism as a rare side effect.
- Genetics: Bruxism is a hereditary condition that you are far more likely to experience if your family has a history of it.
- Mental Disorders & Medical Conditions: Bruxism commonly co-occurs with many conditions and disorders including dementia, Parkinson’s, ADHD, epilepsy, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). Dementia, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy involve disorder or deterioration of the nervous system which can lead to seizure and uncontrolled muscle movements which can be associated with bruxism.
- Dehydration: Not getting enough water may put you at risk for bruxism. Staying hydrated can help reduce your risk of grinding your teeth.
Treatments for Bruxism
The treatment of bruxism depends mostly on the underlying cause of the issue whether it is caused by stress or a dental/medical issue.
- Stress: Bruxism caused by stress can be treated by reducing your overall levels of stress. This may involve things such as: stress counseling, psychological therapy, exercises in relaxation, or the use of prescription muscle relaxers. Your dentist can also supply you with a custom mouth guard to help protect your teeth from grinding together during sleep.
- Dental/Medical Issues: Correcting a tooth or jaw alignment can help rid you of teeth grinding. If your bruxism is the result of taking an antidepressant, then your doctor may switch you to another drug or prescribe an additional medicine to treat the teeth grinding. Braces or Invisalign can be an option for correcting malocclusion or misaligned teeth that are causing bruxism.
If your bruxism occurs during the day, then some lifestyle changes may be recommended to help combat the teeth grinding such as:
- Avoid the consumption of alcohol or the use of tobacco products. Both of these habits commonly coincide with the occurrence of bruxism and should be avoided if teeth grinding is affecting you.
- Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine and other stimulants. High levels of caffeine consumption are linked to hyperactivity and excess gastric acid secretion which can both cause bruxism.
- Mentally train yourself to avoid clenching or grinding your teeth together. If you subconsciously grind your teeth together, then constant vigilance in consciously stopping this habit can help you avoid it.
- Relax your jaw muscles with massage or a warm towel held against your cheek. Relaxation of the jaw muscles can help you avoid muscle spasms that are causing your teeth to grind or clench.
Get Help With Bruxism
If you believe that bruxism is affecting your dental health, then let your dentist know immediately. Our two dentists have over 60 years of combined experience in providing dental care and have treated many individual cases of bruxism over the decades. Get help from an experience Oxnard dentist today at Carson & Carson, DDS (805) 983-0717.