Millions of children and adults suffer from bruxism, which is the constant grinding or clenching of the teeth at night. Some of us are aware that we occasionally grind our teeth while we sleep or during times of intense stress. However, many people do not realize they are grinding their teeth every night, which can cause tooth damage if not properly treated. Many factors can contribute to teeth grinding, including stress, anxiety, missing teeth, sleep disorders, or malocclusion. The outcome can be incredibly painful and expensive, as bruxism can erode the teeth, resulting in flat or small teeth, associated pains, and loosened fillings. It can also wear down tooth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and an array of other dental issues.
Tooth Grinding Symptoms
It is typical for tooth grinding to occur at night, which is why many people are unaware of their teeth gnashing habits. Unless your significant other points out the sounds you’re making while you sleep, you may be completely oblivious to your bruxism. Common symptoms of teeth grinding include:
- Facial pain or soreness
- Fractured or worn down teeth
- Jaw muscle contractions
- Pain and tightness in the jaw
- Mild headaches or earaches
- Nighttime teeth rubbing or chewing sounds
- Occasional swelling on the sides of your lower jaws
- Tooth sensitivity
How to Find Relief
Scheduling a dentist appointment for an examination can determine whether you have been grinding your teeth or if there is another dental issue causing your symptoms. Your dentist can align your jaw to alleviate tooth grinding side effects in some cases, and in more severe instances, a mouth guard can be created to help prevent further damage to the teeth and enamel. Mouth guards are tailored to fit your teeth and should be worn every night to protect the teeth from potential clenching and grinding.
At home, adopting healthy stress management practices can also aid in tooth grinding relief. Starting a new leisure activity, implementing a steady exercise regimen, speaking with a counselor, or simply taking a relaxing, warm bath directly before going to sleep can have positive effects and decrease your daily anxiety level. Limiting your alcohol and caffeinated beverage intake may also help reduce stress and improve the quality of your sleep. Chewing on non-food related items should be avoided, as it builds a habit for your jaw to clench. If you notice yourself clenching your teeth or gently grinding throughout the day, train yourself to relax and stop the pattern. For some individuals, holding a warm washcloth on the jaw before bed can help relax the muscles. Experiment with various routines until you find one that benefits you and stick with what works for your lifestyle. When it comes to your teeth, being proactive and catching problems before they worsen is the best way to achieve healthy teeth and maintain your smile.
If you suffer from the symptoms listed above or suspect that you may be grinding your teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact our office today by calling 858-295-0603 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kohani.