Bruxism, also known as teeth clenching and grinding, is a very common, involuntary habit that involves the rubbing and grinding of your teeth, typically resulting from feeling angry, stressed, or afraid. While the act of bruxism most often takes place at night, some individuals will clench their teeth throughout the day, often without realizing it. Unfortunately, this habit can lead to serious issues, and one should seek treatment for this condition.
Why is Bruxism a Problem?
To smile happily, chew foods, talk, laugh, and feel confident, you need a healthy set of teeth! The strong forces of bruxism can threaten the well-being of your teeth and mouth by wearing them down. This wear and tear can lead to fractured, loose, and damaged teeth that a dentist will need to fix. As well, clenching and grinding can lead to other symptoms, including tension headaches, ear pain, facial pain, and a temporomandibular disorder of the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Since teeth clenching and grinding most often occur while you are sleeping, it can be challenging to realize this is a habit of yours. Some of the signs and symptoms of bruxism to look for include:
- Teeth clenching and grinding you or a partner you sleep with notices
- Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose
- Worn tooth enamel so that deeper layers of your teeth are exposed
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Tired jaw muscles
- Jaw, neck, ear, or facial pain
- Pain and discomfort around your temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- Dull headache around the temples
- Damage to the inside of your cheek
- Sleep disruption
If you notice these symptoms, it’s crucial to meet with your dentist to correct any problems and with a TMJ specialist to help you prevent further damage.
Causes of Bruxism
There are several different reasons you may clench and grind your teeth at night or throughout the day.
- Stress – Feeling anxious and overwhelmed is the most common cause of bruxism. This habit can happen when you feel stressed and uneasy, whether you are asleep or awake.
- Teeth problems – It’s possible your bruxism is caused by issues with your teeth, such as an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.
- Sleep apnea – This serious sleep disorder, characterized by breathing that repeatedly starts and stops, can be the cause of your clenching and grinding.
- Genetics – Bruxism, in some cases, has a genetic component and can run in families.
- Alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine intake – The consumption of any of these substances can leave you more vulnerable to teeth clenching and grinding.
TMJ Treatment in Suffolk County, NY
Dr. Scott Simonetti, a TMJ disorder specialist, is here to help diagnose and put an end to your pain and discomfort caused by a TMJ disorder. Visit our website or give us a call at (631) 277-4848 to learn more about our POD® night guard treatment and how we can help you.