If you have ever awoken with a sore jaw or noticed that you are grinding your teeth, you may suffer from a condition called bruxism. If this occurs rarely, then it usually doesn’t become an issue, but frequent bruxism can cause harm to your teeth and jaw if it isn’t treated. Most people will grind their teeth at some point in their life and can be diagnosed with bruxism, so it is important to understand what causes the condition. When you know why it occurs, it can help you identify when you may be at risk.
The Causes of Bruxism
Bruxism has been linked to several potential factors. There are many issues that can cause you to be tense and can have the result of clenching your jaw. Bruxism has been linked to stress, anxiety, or certain sleep conditions like sleep apnea.
Bruxism often occurs as people sleep. This can make diagnosing it or even realizing that you have the condition difficult. However, many patients with bruxism notice that they have a dull headache or that their jaw hurts when they wake up. Sometimes a spouse will hear them grinding their teeth at night and can alert them to a potential problem.
If you recognize any of these conditions as your own or suspect that you may have bruxism, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist. There are many simple options for treating bruxism that you can take advantage of immediately.
Why You Should Treat Bruxism
If bruxism happens occasionally, it may not be an issue. However, over time, excessive grinding or clenching of your teeth can cause some serious issues. Bruxism can be responsible for a tender mouth, worn down teeth, fracturing or breaking teeth, loose teeth, lost teeth, TMJ, or even alter your facial appearance.
How do Dentists Treat Bruxism?
If you see your dentist and they determine that you do have bruxism, the typical treatment is incredibly simple. Your dentist will likely suggest that you get fitted for a mouth guard. The mouth guard is designed to help protect your teeth from the pressure that grinding places on them. This helps to keep teeth from wearing down, becoming damaged, or loosening.
However, to fully treat bruxism, your dentist may also suggest that you receive some additional professional insight into the causes of your condition. If you know that you are under additional stress, or feeling more anxiety than is normal, you may be able to help identify how to effectively treat your bruxism.
How to Help Your Bruxism
In addition to getting professional help, there are several things that you can do at home to help reduce or relieve bruxism.
Cut back on caffeine. This includes coffee, sodas, energy drinks, and many teas.
Avoid alcohol. The intensity of bruxism increases after alcohol consumption.
Don’t Chew on Non-Food items. Many patients tend to chew on pen lids, pencils, or many other items that simply aren’t food. Reducing the work that your jaw is doing can help the muscles relax.
Stop grinding when you recognize it. Grinding doesn’t always happen at night. If you find that you sometimes grind your teeth during the day, remind yourself to stop. Habitual grinding can have the same negative effect on your teeth.
Use a warm washcloth. Before bed, you can help to relax the muscles of your mouth and jaw by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek just in front of the earlobe. This can help reduce bruxism through the night.
If you think that you may have bruxism, visit our office in Centennial, CO for more information. There are simple solutions that can help you avoid all the pain and discomfort of damaged teeth.