Bruxism 101

bruxismBruxism is an all to common dental problem that can damage your teeth and impact your health. Learn more about this condition and find out how it can be treated.

What is bruxism?
People with bruxism continuously clench, gnash, or grind their teeth. This usually happens subconsciously and often occurs while they are sleeping.

Many people with bruxism don’t even realize it so it is important to be aware of the signs. Some signs and symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Audible grinding of the teeth that may be noticed by a partner
  • Worn out tooth enamel
  • Flattened, fractured, or chipped teeth
  • Sore or stiff jaw muscles
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, and back
  • Earaches that aren’t caused by problems with the ear
  • Damage to the cheeks or tongue caused by chewing
  • Having headaches, especially headaches originating from the temples

What problems are caused by bruxism?
Bruxism can lead to jaw pain, headaches, permanently damaged teeth, teeth that are more vulnerable to infection and decay, jaw disorders and more. In some cases bruxism is also connected to sleep apnea, which results in further serious health problems including wear and tear on the cardiovascular system.
How is it treated?
If you think you may have bruxism, it is important to seek treatment. If you are grinding or clenching your teeth because of stress it is important to find ways to reduce your stress level. Your doctor can give you recommendations, but common ways to relieve stress include regular exercise, getting enough sleep, spending time outdoors, getting a massage, and taking time off to relax and reset.

Even if your bruxism is a side effect of stress, you’ll probably need to do more than take a few days off of work. Patients who are looking for a long term, simple solution should consider wearing a night guard. While there may be night guards available at your local supermarket or drugstore, the best place to get a night guard is from your dentist.

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