Waking up with jaw pain, face pain, or headaches is no laughing matter, they could be signs of something worse – you could be suffering from bruxism. Bruxism is the clinical term for grinding or clenching your teeth. It’s one of the most common sleep disorders, although it can happen during the day as well. While the short-term effects can be no worse than disrupted sleep and jaw pain, the long-term effects can be TMJ, nerve damage, or cracked teeth.
At Hamby Family Dental Center, we’re experienced at seeing the signs and symptoms of bruxism and helping you to find treatment and pain relief.
What is Bruxism (Teeth Grinding or Teeth Clenching)?
Grinding or clenching your teeth are different kinds of bruxism – grinding is when you slide your teeth over each other and clenching is when you hold your teeth together tightly. It often occurs while you’re sleeping, so many cases of teeth grinding or teeth clenching go unnoticed. The most common sign of nocturnal bruxism is waking up with a dull, constant jaw ache or a headache, or that your partner reports that they can hear you grinding your teeth while you sleep. You may also have other sleep disorders as well, such as sleep apnea or snoring.
Bruxism can go undiagnosed as not all symptoms present in everyone who suffers from it, but the following are the most common:
- Pain in Your Face
- Sensitive Teeth
- Worn, Cracked Fillings or Teeth
- Sore Jaw
- Clicking Jaw
- Tight, Tired Jaw Muscles
- Difficulty Sleeping
Unfortunately, there isn’t yet a definitive reason for why you begin to suffer from bruxism. However, there are several factors that make you have a higher likelihood of grinding or clenching your teeth.
- Anxiety and Stress – Being anxious or stressed out is likely the number one reason someone clenches or grinds their teeth either during the day or while they’re sleeping. Living in a situation that makes you angry or frustrated can contribute, or having a competitive or aggressive personality.
- Age – Younger children are at a higher risk for developing bruxism, but they tend to grow out of it as time goes on.
- Family History – If your family members have a history of grinding or clenching their teeth, you will have a higher likelihood to develop it as well.
- Medications or Stimulants – Anti-depressants, tobacco, caffeine, and some psychiatric medications can contribute to teeth grinding.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you’re wondering if you might be suffering from bruxism, you should see your dentist. They can check for you to see if you’ve got any wear spots on your teeth and find any other underlying symptoms that might indicate that you clench or grind your teeth.
Most likely, your dentist will first recommend a night guard to wear while you sleep. This will be custom made to fit your teeth and will slip over both your top and bottom teeth to keep them from rubbing against one another. Additionally, your dentist may suggest a few methods to help you reduce or curb your bruxism habits, such as finding ways to lower your stress, prescribing medication to relieve jaw pain, or exercises to relax your jaw muscles.
If the effects of your bruxism are too advanced, your dentist may recommend cosmetic surgery to reverse the effects of your grinding and clenching, such as crowns or other methods to correct the damage done.
Contact Hamby Family Dental Center for Your Teeth Grinding or Clenching Today
You don’t need to continue suffering from the pain and effects of bruxism. The staff at Hamby Family Dental Center is here to help you relieve your pain and treat your teeth grinding or clenching. We have decades of experience in treating and helping patients with their teeth and jaw disorders, so contact us to make an appointment by calling 919-552-2431 or fill out our appointment form.