Have you ever woken up from your sleep at night with sore teeth and jaws? There is a good chance that you could be grinding your teeth. The medical term for this condition is bruxism – a rhythmic clenching of one’s jaws and grinding of the teeth. The habit can develop at any age.
The worst part is that individuals who suffer from the condition usually grind their teeth unconsciously or in their sleep, but they can also do it while fully awake.
An individual may start to grind their teeth during the day especially when they are working on a task that requires concentration. They often place their teeth together and start to apply force through the contraction of the jaw muscles.
This is usually associated with tasks such as heavy weight lifting, reading, driving, or writing. During sleep hours, the individual can start to clench their teeth in rhythmic contractions, unknowingly.
The Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
- One of the most common symptoms of teeth grinding is a headache. People who grind their teeth at least 2-3 times a day are more likely to experience these headaches compared to a normal individual.
Other symptoms include enlargement of facial muscles, muscle aches, stiffness of the neck and shoulders, temporomandibular joint discomfort, pain in the ears, and trouble sleeping.
- If teeth grinding is not controlled in a timely manner, it can start to show abnormal wear and tear on the teeth and cause mobility issues in the mouth. Moreover, if left untreated, it can lead to fracture or loss of teeth. Hence it is very important to talk to a dentist immediately so a solution can be found.
What are the Causes of Teeth Grinding?
- The usual causes of the condition are depression, stress, smoking, anxiety, sleep disorders, and caffeine. However, there is very little proof that these directly support the causes. Research has also found out that sleep bruxism is usually found in people who snore a lot or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
People who occasionally smoke or drink alcohol and caffeine abnormally also suffer from the condition.
- But according to research, about 70% of individuals grind their teeth due to anxiety and stress. It can also occur if you have a stressful work environment.
Teeth Grinding Treatments
- How can you prevent yourself from grinding your teeth? It really comes down to the root cause. If you are grinding your teeth due to a sleep disorder, for example, you may have to make some lifestyle changes and reduce stress and anxiety in your life.
Whatever the cause is, it is important to visit your dentist to help him/her evaluate the situation with a comprehensive routine dental exam. This will allow them to come up with a treatment plan that is specifically designed for you.
- The best way to prevent the condition and protect your teeth from wear and tear is to wear a mouthguard. The mouth guards are capable of reducing jaw muscle pain and protect the teeth from wear and tear. The guards are usually worn when you are going to sleep. Your dentist or doctor may be able to help you decide the times you have to wear a mouthguard.
Teeth Grinding in Children
Children who grind their teeth are usually suffering from anxiety or stress. If that is the case, then behavioral management is crucial to prevent it from becoming a permanent habit. There are many relaxation techniques including meditation that can help manage stress and anxiety in both children and adults.
Putting an end to this medical condition requires close evaluation by a dentist. The doors at Vitarelli Dental are always open for you. Visit our Saddle River dental office and we will evaluate your situation and come up with a treatment plan specifically designed to help you get rid of the condition.