Often times I have patients come to the practice with complaints about occasional sore jaw to chronic teeth grinding. Bruxism, the medical name for teeth grinding, is a common habitual activity – often diagnosed as a sleep disorder – that is characterized by clenching the jaw and grinding your teeth. Whether the grinding is a lifelong habit or a new habit the reality is that Bruxism affects 1 in 3 people according to the National Academy of General Dentistry. Teeth grinding, whether mild or severe, can be a serious problem.
Due to the fact that many cases of bruxism are frequently misdiagnosed, my team and I take great care to spot the tooth wear signs that differentiate unnatural grinding wear from other tooth surface abrasions due to brushing, acidic beverages, and abrasive foods. Here are 4 typical signs your may suffer from Bruxism:
- The tips of your teeth look flat
- You have extreme tooth sensitivity due to the inside of the tooth (dentin) being exposed from grinding
- You experience jaw pain due to popping and clicking of temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- You have indentations in your tongue
So What Causes Bruxism?
Occasional instances of bruxism occur in all types of people. Typical causes are stress and anxiety. Often, it’s harmless. But in protracted cases of teeth grinding, the cause is often an abnormal bite or crooked teeth, and the result can be:
- Gum recession
- Permanently-damaged teeth
- Tooth loss
- Tooth fractures
- Arthritis in the jaw
- Muscle pain
- Other oral health complications
In typical cases of bruxism, your upper and lower teeth grind against each other in a side-to-side motion while you sleep. You may also clench your jaw during these nighttime periods. The grinding and clenching motions put undue stress on the muscles and joints of the jaw, often resulting in earaches and headaches.
Is There A Cure For Bruxism?
While currently there is no cure for bruxism, common treatments for teeth grinding and jaw clenching include:
- Application of nighttime bite strips
- Mouth guards
- Other prescribed oral devices
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
If you have any questions about bruxism, please call our office in Herndon for a consultation or schedule your appointment today.