What Is Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) And How Do You Treat It?

Did you know that up to 30% of the population suffer from teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching habits? More often than not, we are not aware that we are grinding, clenching, or gnashing our teeth, especially since this happens to 1 in 10 of us during our sleep.

Whether or not you are conscious of this habit, teeth grinding can develop into a major issue and profoundly impact your oral health if left untreated.

How do I know if I grind my teeth?

If you experience constant, dull pain in your face and jaw, your trusted dentist can help to determine if you have bruxism. They will ask you a series of questions and check for wear and tear to your teeth, jaw muscles, and jaw joints.

While you are waiting to see your dentist, here are common signs you may be grinding your teeth during the day or unknowingly in the night:

  • Bed partner notices grinding noises or sounds
  • Dull headache after waking up
  • Hurt or stiff jaw muscles
  • Sleep disruption from the sound of teeth grinding
  • Struggle to open mouth wide
  • Damage to teeth or broken dental fillings

What causes bruxism?

There are many causes of teeth grinding, and they are unique to each patient. Experts have yet to determine whether “physical, psychological, or genetic factors are at play”, otherwise it could be a combination of these elements.

Anxiety and stress

Clenching of the teeth and jaw is a common symptom of anxiety and stress. Our bodies deal with stressful situations in different ways, and bruxism may develop as a coping mechanism. This ultimately causes damage to teeth and joints.

Medications and substances

Although unusual, bruxism may be a side effect of taking some medications and substances. This includes a range of antidepressants, smoking tobacco, alcohol, or recreational drugs.

Upper airway obstruction

There is a correlation between bruxism and enlarged tonsils, adenoids or deviated nasal septum that leads to airway obstruction. You may need to consider removing tonsils or adenoids to help lower the likelihood of teeth grinding, especially during your sleep.

Tooth contact

If restoratives such as crowns are interfering with your natural bite, it may lead to clenching of the jaws to reach biting and chewing satisfaction. Additionally, if your natural teeth are misaligned or crowded, it can result in teeth grinding, particularly during sleep.

If you suspect this may be the case, reach out to your dentist and they may advise you to manage and treat your teeth grinding habits with orthodontic treatment.

Tips to reduce or prevent bruxism

If you are aware of your teeth grinding habits, you can take these actions to prevent your grinding from worsening, reducing the long-term damage.

  • Reduce stress – It may be easier said than done but taking care of yourself and easing tension – especially before going to bed – is one way to reduce bruxism. For instance, doing meditation or taking a bath before sleeping.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine – In some individuals, alcohol and caffeine intake increase teeth-grinding tendencies.
  • Relax the muscles – Actively try and keep your jaw relaxed during the day. Avoid unnecessary chewing (e.g., gum or pens) and try positioning your tongue between your teeth to train your jaw muscles to relax.

Blue Tooth Dental Can Help You Manage Teeth Grinding Habits

Do you find yourself constantly clenching your jaw or wake up with a headache and sore jaw? Consider discussing with your trusted dentist about treatment options such as night guards and Botox injections.

If you are experiencing teeth grinding or if you are concerned about facial and jaw discomfort, book an appointment with the friendly Blue Tooth Dental team. We can discuss with you the best treatment for your bruxism, or we can direct you in the right direction for alternative options. Call us today on (02) 9519 2691!

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