Do you clench your jaws or grind your teeth, when you are stressed or angry?
Clenching or grinding of teeth is very common. Some people unconsciously clench their teeth, push their jaw forward, or grind their teeth. Often times, this behavior happens when we are sleep. When such behavior happens often and becomes a habit, the condition is called bruxism.
What Causes bruxism?
Exact causes of buxism are unknown. However, bruxism is strongly associated with emotional stress, anxiety, or tension. People who clench or grind their teeth in their sleep are more likely to be suffering from other sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea. Studies have shown that people who drink caffeinated drinks are three times as likely to grind their teeth. Bruxism could also be a side effect of some medications.
What are the signs of bruxism?
Signs and symptoms of bruxism include:
· Worn, fractured, chipped or loose teeth
· Exposed dentine (Deeper layer of tooth) after the enamel is worn away
· Increased Sensitivity of teeth to cold or hot temperatures
· Pain or stiffness of the jaw muscles
· Pain or soreness in Jaw, neck or face
· Dull headache starting in the temples
· Restlessness during sleep
Can Bruxism Cause Damage?
Studies suggest that people who are diagnosed with bruxism clench or bite down with a force six times greater than normal.
Damage to the teeth can start from surface cracks and eventually lead to broken teeth or restorations. This can result in tooth pain or looseness of the tooth because of the damage to the tissues that support the teeth.
What should be done?
Make an appointment to see your dentist if you have any of the signs or symptoms listed above or have other concerns about your teeth or jaw.
Your dentist may recommend the use of an oral appliance to help relax the muscles of your face. This appliance, generally referred to as an occlusal guard or night guard, is customized to your teeth and is designed to prevent grinding and protect your teeth against grinding.
Your dentist may also suggest medications like muscle relaxers that can help reduce muscle tension.