A lot of people do grind or clench their teeth occasionally, and this doesn’t usually cause any lasting damage to the teeth. But when teeth grinding, or to give it its proper name, bruxism, becomes a habit then it is definitely time to take action. This habit can cause extensive damage to the teeth and gums, and can even affect the joint responsible for moving your jaw.
What Makes People Grind Their Teeth?
Bruxism can be caused a number of different things, but it is thought that it’s often related to stress or anxiety. However it is something that can also be due to having crooked teeth, or having teeth which meet together incorrectly. Most people grind their teeth in their sleep, although some will find themselves clenching their jaw during the day.
What are the Symptoms of Teeth Grinding?
Many people will be unaware they have this habit as it so frequently occurs during the night, and will only learn they grind their teeth when they are informed by their sleeping partner. However if you continually wake up with an aching jaw, or a headache then you may have this problem. Other symptoms can include:
- Feeling anxious or stressed
- Having depression
- Having an eating disorder
- Noticing your teeth have become more sensitive to hot and cold foods
- Having insomnia
- Noticing your teeth look shorter than before
- Noticing your gums are receding
This condition can also cause ear pain, due to the fact that the ear is very close to the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint responsible for moving your jaw. This is something that is called referred pain. If you think you may have bruxism then it is a great idea to make an appointment to visit your dentist to have the problem properly diagnosed.
Getting Treatment for Bruxism
The main aim will be to get you to stop grinding your teeth, to treat any damage that may have resulted from bruxism, and to prevent any further damage from occurring. If you think it may be stress related then you will need to take steps to relieve the stress and anxiety. You may want to try yoga, or some other sort of physical activity, or you might find some simple stretching exercises will help to relax your facial muscles.
Your dentist is likely to suggest you start wearing a night guard of some description, and there are lots of different types available. They work by preventing your teeth from meeting so that you can no longer grind and clench. They also put the jaw into a position where it is forced to relax. Bruxism is a habit, and wearing a night guard can often be sufficient to break it. If your problem is being caused by teeth that meet together incorrectly then you may require orthodontic treatment to remedy this.
Other things that can help include making sure you stay well hydrated, and that you get enough sleep. It can help to avoid eating hard foods, especially if it feels as if your temporomandibular joint is inflamed. During the day, just take a moment or two to actively relax the muscles in your jaw, so that this relaxation becomes a habit.