If you grind your teeth during the day or at night you are causing damage to your teeth and jaws.
Bruxism is the technical name for the involuntary or habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep. Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, because it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
While many suffer from the symptoms of night time teeth grinding, they are unaware because you are sleeping when it occurs.
Some common symptoms that you may grind your teeth are:
- A dull, constant headache
- Sore jaw when you wake up
- A long term smoothing of the edges of your teeth.
- When others hear grinding while you are sleeping.
The long term effects of bruxism can include:
- Loss of teeth
- Wearing down to stumps
- Exposure of roots and nerves
- Daily pain and soreness
- Change in appearance of your face.
If you grind your teeth you want to see a dentist!
Your dentist will assess whether or not you grind your teeth by examining your mouth and jaws. If there is evidence of jaw tenderness or wearing of teeth surfaces your dentist can advice you of options to reduce the damage of nighttime teeth grinding. Commonly patients are offered a mouth guard as the first response.
If you think or know you grind your teeth at night or during the day you may want to consider the following suggestions to reduce this behavior:
Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
Stress is the #1 cause of teeth grinding. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist about options that will help to reduce your stress. Your dentist is in fact a doctor. Depending on your depth of needed care your dentist may insist you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.
Dr. Alicia Abeyta, DDS, in Albuquerque, NM is a dentist that focuses on One Mouth, One Body, and One Connection. If you think you suffer from teeth grinding, call the office for a consultation now!