If you grind your teeth, you aren't alone. Research has shown that tooth grinding is a problem for about 8% of all American adults, with the condition being more prevalent in women and children. In fact, another study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that over 1/3rd of parents report tooth grinding in their children, impacting their ability to sleep comfortably and enjoy healthy, pain-free teeth. Unfortunately, tooth damage isn't the only problem that nighttime grinding can cause. Excessive clenching or grinding can also cause a wide range of physical side effects.
The Symptoms of Bruxism
One of the most frustrating things about bruxism is that many people don't realize they are grinding their teeth until they experience one of many side effects. Here are some of the most common symptoms of bruxism.
- Noisy Teeth Grinding During Sleep: Does your spouse or roommate ever complain that you make loud grinding noises in your sleep? You might be grinding your teeth without even realizing it. Talk with the people you live with to see if you make grinding or clenching noises when you are asleep.
- Dental Sensitivity: Frequent grinding or clenching can cause the teeth to flatten, exposing underlying layers of dentin. Bruxism can also cause the gum tissue to recede, causing extreme dental sensitivity.
- Tooth Fractures: Eventually, grinding can cause problems like chipped teeth, cracks, and even dental fractures. This damage can be exceptionally painful and open the teeth up to deeper decay. Bruxism can even cause fractures that extend down through the root of the tooth, causing the need for extraction.
- Face Pain or Soreness: Overnight tooth grinding can lead to tired facial and jaw muscles. Some bruxism sufferers report having a sore face, neck, and jaw in the morning.
- Headaches or Earaches: Headaches stemming from the temples and earaches that aren't caused by ear infections can result from consistent tooth grinding.
- Oral Lacerations: People who grind their teeth also frequently experience oral lacerations, including indentations on the tongue and bite marks on the inside of the cheeks.
Although research is ongoing regarding the definitive cause of bruxism, the condition has been tied to other health problems, including stress, mental health issues, sleep problems, and Parkinson's disease. People who have hyperactive or anxious personality types are more likely to grind their teeth, and people who have sleep problems such as sleep apnea are also at a higher risk for developing the condition. Bruxism has also been tied to abnormal alignment of the teeth, some psychiatric medications, and Huntington's disease.
Treatments for Bruxism
Fortunately, there are several ways to treat bruxism. If you suspect that you grind your teeth, a good place to start is by visiting with your doctor and your dentist. Bruxism can be diagnosed through a careful oral examination, and Dr. White will help you to determine what course of treatment to take. Some possibilities of treatment are:
- Stress Management- Some bruxism patients find relief from their symptoms through stress management and relaxation techniques. Practices like regular exercise, yoga, and meditation can help people to relax and prevent bruxism.
- Medications- Certain medications, such as muscle relaxants can help to relax the jaw muscles to stop you from grinding your teeth.
- Dental Appliances- One of the most effective treatments for Bruxism is dental appliances designed to relax the jaw muscles while simultaneously protecting the teeth. These dental appliances are incredibly durable, giving Bruxism patients the chance to relax and sleep without worrying about waking up to a damaged smile.
Contact us today to schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. White, your partner in the quest for a beautiful, healthy smile. Our Broomall office delivers exemplary service and distinctive dental care to residents of Broomall, Philadelphia, Delaware County, and surrounding areas. We look forward to helping you with your dentistry goals.