Most of us grind our teeth occasionally, often at night, when we may not be conscious of it. The term for this behavior is bruxism.
Infrequent bruxism, the grinding of your teeth, is not usually something that requires a visit to your dentist. However, if you grind your teeth excessively, it can cause headaches or pain in the jaw. More than this, it can wear down your teeth and cause more serious oral health problems.
If you are prone to grinding your teeth, it is a good idea to contact us for a consultation about how we can help protect your teeth, and even eliminate some associated muscle pain.
Why People Grind Their Teeth
The most common cause of teeth grinding is stress and anxiety. Most of the time, it is unconsciously. Some people grind their teeth out of habit when teeth are missing, crooked, or have an abnormal bite. People who suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea are also more prone to grinding their teeth than those who don’t.
Lifestyle factors may play a role in bruxism. Some medications can cause you to grind your teeth – in particular, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a type of antidepressant. Consumption of substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and smoking can also cause bruxism in some people.
How Do I Know If I Grind My Teeth?
Because teeth grinding is typically something we do in our sleep, it can be challenging to know that we’re doing it. If you share your bed with a partner, they might alert you to the problem, but there are some other crucial tell-tale signs.
Grinding your teeth causes pressure on your gums and jaw, and so may cause headaches or even earaches. If you often wake up with soreness in your jaw, mouth, neck, or head, you are likely grinding your teeth at night.
If you aren’t sure, go and speak to your dentist. They will be able to examine your teeth and advise you on whether you would benefit from treatment. It will be clear from wear on your teeth or tenderness in your jaw that you are grinding your teeth.
What Treatments Are Available?
Chronic teeth grinding can cause severe damage to your teeth over time, in some cases, even grinding the tooth down to the gums. Not only is this painful, but if the problem is not appropriately addressed, it may require reconstructive treatments such as dentures, bridges, and crowns.
However, if you recognize the problem early, we can help prevent these adverse effects. Typically, we will recommend you use a night guard to help protect your teeth and gums. We will assist you in finding or creating one that will fit your individual needs. You can buy generic night guards, but may not alleviate pain or protect your teeth adequately. They also tend to be uncomfortable.
Our expert team at Dental Partners of Boston can design a nightguard to fit comfortably to the shape of your mouth. If your night guard fits correctly, you’ll find it easier to use, and will experience a higher degree of success. If you suspect that you have a habit of grinding your teeth, schedule an appointment with us today for an exam and consultation.