Teeth Grinding ( Bruxism)
If you are waking up with jaw pain, tension headaches, or facial pain, you may be suffering from a condition known as bruxism. This means you could be grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep. Some people aren’t even aware they are grinding or clenching their teeth at night, until a visit to us reveals significant tooth enamel loss. Fortunately, there is a non-invasive and effective solution for teeth grinding, in custom-fabricated nightguards.
Causes of teeth grinding
Tension, stress, and anxiety experienced during the daytime can carry over to an individual’s sleep, and lead the person to grind his or her teeth together or clench the teeth unknowingly. Sleep apnea is another condition that can result in bruxism. Regardless of the cause, however, frequent clenching and teeth grinding wears down the chewing surfaces of the teeth, reduces tooth enamel, and can result in a cracked or chipped tooth, crown, or filling.
Nightguards for teeth grinding
Custom nightguards are fabricated to fit like a glove and protect your teeth from the adverse effects of bruxism. Nightguards are created through a non-invasive process that simply takes an impression of the bottom and top rows of teeth. The result is a nightguard that is flexible, comfortable, and personalized to your mouth.
Benefits of nightguards
Nightguards are helpful to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of dental damage incurred as a result of teeth grinding. They can reduce the discomfort associated with a sore jaw, headaches, tooth sensitivity, ear pain, and facial pain that many patients experience as a result of clenching or grinding of their teeth.
At-home tips to reduce or prevent teeth grinding
Although it’s important to wear your nightguard faithfully if you grind your teeth at night, you can follow a few self-care tips to help to prevent your teeth grinding from worsening.
- Reduce tension and stress.Whether you take a warm bath before bed, listen to soothing music, or exercise, practice stress-relieving activities to wash away the tensions of the day.
- Avoid alcohol.In some patients, alcohol increases teeth grinding tendencies.
- Avoid caffeine.In some individuals, caffeine increases the likelihood of teeth grinding.
- Focus on relaxing jaw muscles. Make a conscious effort to keep your jaw relaxed. A warm washcloth against your cheek, sticking your tongue between your teeth, and avoiding chewing pencils, pens, and gum are all ways to train the muscles of your jaw to stay relaxed.
The Signs and Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
The most common symptoms of Teeth Grinding (bruxism), of course, involve the face, jaw, neck and head. These symptoms may include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching that others can hear
- Flattened, cracked, chipped or loose teeth
- Worn enamel
- Sensitive teeth
- Jaw or facial pain
- Stiff or tired jaw muscles
- A headache at the temples
- An earache
- Cheek or tongue damage from chewing on either
These symptoms may result from a variety of causes including anxiety and stress, sleep apnea, intense concentration, malocclusion and even as a side effect of certain medications. But whatever the cause, the symptoms are not pleasant. And bruxism may lead to significant oral complications including flat or worn teeth; cracked or chipped teeth; chronic headaches; TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder); damage to crowns and other restorations; and tooth sensitivity.
Treatment for Bruxism
One of the most common and effective methods for treating bruxism is a custom-fitted mouth guard that is worn at night. This guard is made of hard acrylic or softer materials and serves to separate the upper and lower teeth, protecting them from grinding and clenching. You may notice relief the very first night that you wear your nightguard.
Can Teeth Grinding Cause Your Teeth to be Loose
There are a lot of reasons (including a blow to the mouth) why one of your permanent teeth might become loose. The most common: advanced periodontal (gum) disease that has weakened the gum attachment to the tooth.
There’s also another, less common reason: you have a teeth grinding habit that’s producing higher than normal biting forces. Besides accelerating tooth wear, the constant jaw movement and teeth clenching can stretch periodontal ligaments and loosen their attachment to a tooth.
If the gums are disease-free, teeth grinding is most likely the main culprit for the looseness of the teeth.
Even if you don’t have a grinding habit, wrong bite may still contribute to tooth looseness if you have advanced gum disease. Advanced disease results in excessive bone loss around the teeth, which in turn reduces the remaining amount of ligaments attached to the tooth.
It’s necessary in these cases to treat the gum disease, and this is our goal as Periodontist, is to treat the infection primarily by removing plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), which causes and sustains the infection. Once removed, the gums can begin to heal and strengthen their attachment.
Whatever has caused your loose tooth, our goal is to remove the cause or lessen its effects. With your tooth secure and the gums regaining their healthy attachment, we have a good chance of saving it.
If you would like more information on teeth grinding and other potentially damaging oral habits, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.