The correct name for grinding teeth and teeth clenching is bruxism and one of the main problems with this condition is that it usually occurs during sleep. Quite often, bruxism is considered to be a sleep disorder and it can be associated with other problems such as sleep apnea. While many of us will occasionally clench and grind, prolonged bruxism can be very harmful as it can cause a great deal of damage not only to your teeth, but also to your gums and jaws and often sufferers will have chronic headaches that are difficult to treat (Read about Bruxism Treatment NYC and Clenching Teeth Treatment Manhattan, NY). This is because grinding teeth can affect your jaw joints or temporomandibular joints causing them to become inflamed and painful and this pain can radiate outwards, causing headaches or even neck and shoulder pain.
So what are the symptoms of this condition? Symptoms can include:
- Noticing your teeth look worn or chipped
- Your teeth may look longer than before as bruxism can cause gum recession and you may notice there is a notch at the bottom of your teeth
- Your jaw may ache when you wake up in the mornings
- It might be difficult or painful to open your jaw properly or it could make a popping or clicking sound as you do so
It can be tricky to tell if you have this condition but if you even suspect you might have bruxism then it’s worth booking an appointment to come and see D&D Periodontal Associates. We can carry out a full evaluation of your teeth and jaws to assess whether you have bruxism and if so how much damage has already been caused.
Determining the Cause of Grinding Teeth
If we do think you have grinding teeth then the next step will be to work out what’s causing it. Bruxism is often linked to stress and anxiety, but it can also develop if you have a poor bite where your teeth are significantly out of occlusion and don’t meet together correctly. This is because biting down on some of your teeth before others will create significant stress on these teeth. If we think your bruxism may be caused by sleep apnea, it could be worth you having a sleep study where your sleep will be monitored overnight in a comfortable clinic.
How to Stop Clenching Teeth
Sometimes it may be possible to treat grinding teeth by realigning your bite with either new crowns or other restorations or by providing orthodontic treatment. You’ll probably be able to visit your general dentist for these types of treatments. Reducing stress and anxiety levels wherever possible can also help. Otherwise the most straightforward way to treat grinding teeth is to wear a custom-made night guard that works by simply preventing your teeth from contacting during the night. A night guard helps to put the jaw in a more relaxed position which reduces stress and strain on your jaw joints and facial muscles. It’s also worth becoming more aware of times when you might clench your jaws during the daytime as taking action to consciously force your facial muscles to relax will help retrain them.