Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, refers to clenching, grinding, or gnashing teeth together during sleep. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that about 8% of adults have bruxism, and that about 33% of parents notice symptoms of bruxism in their children. Teeth grinding may not just affect your teeth. It can affect your gum tissue and jaws, too.
At The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas, David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, understand how bruxism can affect your overall oral health. In this blog, they discuss what bruxism is and how you can prevent it.
The dangers of bruxism
Do you wake up with sore jaws? Clenching your jaws all night can lead to morning headaches and jaw soreness. These are just two possible complications of bruxism. Other complications of bruxism can include the following:
Increased risk of tooth fractures
Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaws can put tremendous pressure on your teeth. All of that pressure can increase your chances of chipping a tooth or developing a crack or fracture. The longer your bruxism remains untreated, the more likely you’ll be to develop brittle, chipped, and weak teeth.
Noticeably larger dental abfractions
Dental abfractions are small, wedge-shaped notches that develop where a tooth meets the gums. Dental abfractions are caused by malocclusion (bite issues), mineral deficiencies, and bruxism. If you see these small notches, bruxism might be the culprit.
Dental abfractions can increase your risk of tooth sensitivity, especially if the wedges are deep and the nerves are exposed.
Teeth grinding can affect your gums, too. The pressure exerted by clenching your jaws can lead to gum recession. And when your gums recede, it can cause increased tooth sensitivity, and in extreme cases, wiggly teeth and tooth loss.
Poor sleep at night
If bruxism interferes with your ability to get a good night of sleep, you might experience:
- Never feeling refreshed even after a full night of sleep
- Daytime sleepiness
Studies show that bruxism frequently occurs in individuals with sleep apnea. If this is the case for you, the combination of sleep apnea and bruxism could make it very difficult to feel well-rested.
Clenching your jaws all night can lead to morning headaches and jaw pain. Because pain can radiate, you might even feel discomfort in your ears.
Identifying the causes of bruxism
Because there are many unwanted complications associated with teeth grinding, it’s important to pinpoint the cause of your bruxism, so you can get the relief you need. Common causes of bruxism include:
It’s also possible to experience multiple causes at the same time.
Once we identify the cause of your teeth grinding, we will suggest the appropriate treatment. One of the most common treatments is a nightguard. A night guard, which is similar to a mouthguard, helps keep your teeth in a position that prevents you from grinding your teeth. It also helps reduce the pressure from clenching your jaws.
Other treatments may include:
- Treating underlying conditions, such as sleep apnea
- Managing high-stress levels with exercise, deep breathing, and other methods
- Orthodontic care to address malocclusion
If you have bruxism, or if you want to see if you do, book an appointment over the phone with The Woodlands Dental Group today. We’ll perform a thorough evaluation and get you on the path to good oral health.