If you’re constantly waking up with a pounding headache and tense jaw muscles, there’s a possibility you may be suffering from teeth grinding aka bruxism.
Bruxism is a medical term for jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Aside from the headache and pain in your jaw muscles, the effects of bruxism aren’t apparent right away. In fact, you might not even realize you’re doing it.
However, over time, you might start noticing worn down or chipped teeth. That’s why it’s crucial that you book regular dental appointments so that your dentist can diagnose and start your treatment for bruxism right away.
Causes of Bruxism
Although the exact causes of bruxism remain unknown, several factors may be involved in causing bruxism. For instance, jaw clenching and/or teeth grinding can occur when a person feels anxious or stressed. The mental strain can lead a person to grind their teeth and clench their jaw during the day. Stress increases adrenaline which mobilizes energy in the body and can ultimately manifest into teeth grinding or jaw clenching if you’re not moving your body. This can also lead to sleep related disorders like bruxism or grinding of your teeth while asleep. In such a case, the person himself may not realize it, but a partner or roommate might hear slight grinding noises from the person instead.
Certain medicines such as antidepressants can also cause teeth grinding as a side effect. A family history of teeth grinding, and bruxism can increase the risk as well.
In addition to stress and anxiety, bruxism can also be brought on by abnormal jaw posture and tooth positions. Sleep disorders such as snoring or sleep apnea (conditions in which you suffer from irregular breathing) may also prove the culprit in causing you to grind your teeth while you sleep.
Some other common causes of teeth grinding may also be indicative of an unhealthy lifestyle. An increased intake of alcohol, drugs, caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee can also cause teeth grinding. Smoking cigarettes regularly can cause or worsen bruxism as well.
Bruxism in Children
Teeth grinding is also quite common amongst toddlers and babies. The ADA states that pain or discomfort from colds, ear infections, allergies and other ailments may cause your children to grind their teeth. Teeth grinding can also occur while their teeth are emerging, but will soon pass once the teeth have set in.
Effects of Bruxism
As mentioned earlier, the effects of bruxism don’t always appear right away. Some symptoms may only become evident after your dentist has conducted an examination and he detects the condition during your checkup. Over time, if left untreated, bruxism can severely damage your teeth and affect your jaw as well.
The constant pressure on the teeth can cause the enamel to wear down, exposing the underlying layer of dentin. This can then cause the tooth to become sensitive to certain foods, temperature changes, pressure and even brushing.
Teeth grinding can also change the shape of your teeth. They could become chipped, shorter, or start appearing flatter. You might start noticing gum recession as well as tenderness in your jaws. In extreme cases, the pressure from clenching and grinding of teeth may cause the tooth (or teeth) to crack or fracture.
Moreover, teeth grinding can also lead to other dental problems such as Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) syndrome. If you have any dental restorations, such as crowns or fillings, teeth grinding can damage that too.
Some other symptoms of bruxism include facial pain, headaches, earache, pain and stiffness in the jaw joint (TMJ), disrupted sleep and more.
Treatment of Bruxism
If you’re experiencing bruxism or suspect that you may be, you should schedule an appointment to speak with your dentist. After a thorough examination, your dentist will be able to make an assessment of whether there’s been any damage to your teeth or gums as well as work with you determine a possible underlying cause and plan of action.
Some treatments of bruxism may include a referral to your doctor to be seen for stress and anxiety, the use of a mouth guard while sleeping, a prescription of muscle relaxers and more. Mouth guards fit onto your teeth and keep the upper and lower separate to prevent damage from teeth grinding.
If your teeth grinding is a result of any medication you’re taking, you should speak with your doctor in the event they suggest a change in your medications.
Experienced Dentist in Bowie, Maryland
Timely treatment of bruxism helps in relieving short-term pain and discomfort and helps prevent long-term damage to the teeth and overall health of the jaw. If you have noticed any of the effects mentioned above, you should schedule an appointment with an experienced dentist in Bowie, Maryland right away. Dr. Adesanya and his team are only a phone call away. Give us a call today at 301-464-1800. We look forward to welcoming you!