Save Your Smile! Stop Grinding Your Teeth!

Are you a Bruxer?

If you grind your teeth at night (or during the day, for that matter), you are a “Bruxer.” Bruxism is the grinding and clenching of teeth, most often during sleep. For many, bruxism is an unconscious habit. You may not be aware that you are grinding your teeth in your sleep. Someone may tell you or you may wake with a sore jaw or a sensitive tooth or possibly a loose one! Your dentist may see evidence of bruxism during a routine dental checkup.

 

What are Symptoms of Bruxism?

Signs of teeth grinding and clenching include:

  • Bottoms of teeth worn down
  • Cracked tooth enamel
  • Aching in the face, head, and neck
  • Waking with a headache or pain in the jaw
  • Enlarged facial muscles
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) discomfort
  • Sleep disorders

What Causes Bruxism?

People with certain types of personalities are more likely to grind their teeth. Those with nervous tension or those who have difficulty dealing with stress are candidates for Bruxism. Individuals who are aggressive, competitive and hurried may also be at greater risk for teeth grinding. In addition to stress and anxiety, smoking, heavy alcohol or caffeine intake, depression, and sleep disorders are all possible causes of teeth grinding according to the Bruxism Association.   

How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

Your general dentist will look for signs of bruxism during a routine checkup and may suggest therapy to change behavior by learning how to rest the tongue, teeth, and lips properly. Based on the amount of damage and potential cause of the grinding, your dentist may suggest:

  • Wearing a custom-made appliance while sleeping. This guard slips over the upper teeth and protects them from grinding against the lower teeth. An appliance is a good way to manage grinding, but isn’t a cure for bruxism.
  • Learning how to relax.  Everyday stress can be a major cause of teeth grinding and mouth clenching, so finding what helps you to relax can help.  Listening to music, reading a book before sleep, taking a bath, or going for a walk are some ways that can reduce stress.
  • Meditation or psychoanalysis to help manage the stress and anxiety.
  • Hypnosis, which has been found to have positive long-term effects.
  • Evaluating whether you suffer from a sleep disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
  • Cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Consulting a physical therapist or chiropractor about specialized jaw exercises to do
    during the day.

 

Curing bruxism is not always possible, but it can be managed. By using a custom night guard, strengthening the jaw with exercises, and using stress-relieving techniques, teeth grinders and clenchers can lessen their symptoms and avoid major dental work.

 

 

Need a dental consultation?

Visit one of our four Central Massachusetts dental locations. Friendly Dental of Worcester office at (508) 791-4000, Unique Dental of Worcester office at (508) 753-5488, Taunton Dental Center office at (508) 822-1281, or Uxbridge Family Dental office at (508) 278-2015.

 

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