What causes bruxism, and what are its symptoms? Which treatment options do we recommend? Our Edmonton dentists explain the facts and how we may be able to help.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is a condition that causes you to unconsciously clench, grind, or gnash your teeth. You may do this when you're awake (awake bruxism) or grind or clench your teeth while you're asleep (sleep bruxism).
While mild bruxism may not require treatment, in some people it can be severe and occur frequently enough that it leads to headaches, damaged teeth, jaw disorders and other problems.
It's even possible to have bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, so understanding the signs and symptoms of bruxism is key to keeping your teeth healthy. Attending regular dental appointments is also important.
Your dentist will check for signs of bruxism during regular dental exams, and assess any changes in your mouth and teeth over several visits to see if the issue is progressive and to determine whether you require treatment.
Why do people grind their teeth?
Though stress and anxiety can cause teeth grinding, it often occurs during sleep and can be caused by an abnormal bite, or crooked or missing teeth.
Sleep bruxism is known as a sleep-related movement disorder. People who grind (brux) or clench their teeth are more likely to suffer from other sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea (pauses in breathing).
Teeth grinding is also a common symptom of TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), which is caused by misalignment of the teeth or jaw. Airway issues, trauma to the jaw, genetics and skull shape may also contribute to the disorder.
You may notice TMD symptoms worsen during periods of stress and intense outbreaks may cause other physical symptoms such as neck pain and dizziness.
Other symptoms of the disorder include ringing in the ears, migraines, and the signs listed below.
When it comes to identifying bruxism, signs and symptoms of the condition can vary. They may include:
- Clenching or grinding your teeth, which may become loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
- Worn tooth enamel, leaving deep layers of your tooth exposed
- Tight or tired jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won't completely open or close
- Soreness or pain in the jaw, neck or face
- Dull headache originating in the temples
- Increased pain or sensitivity in your teeth
- Pain that feels similar to an earache, though it's not actually a problem with your ear
- Disruption in sleep
- Damage from chewing on your inner cheek
If you've noticed signs of teeth clenching in you or a loved one, contact us to book an appointment with one of our Edmonton dentists so the condition can be properly diagnosed.
How can I stop grinding my teeth?
If your dentist suspects that you have bruxism or TMD, we'll discuss treatment methods, which may include wearing a night guard and practicing relaxation techniques. Your dentist may also recommend using a TENS device, which encourages the jaw and facial muscles to relax.