Bruxism, also referred to as teeth grinding, is a silent habit that can have detrimental effects to your oral health. Early recognition and intervention are crucial in preventing long-term damage to your teeth, jaw, and your overall well-being.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth. Most times, it occurs when you’re sleeping! This common dental condition effects millions of people worldwide, with more than 200,000 cases diagnosed in the United States each year. While it can affect people of all ages, it is far more common among children and adults between the ages of 25 and 44.
What Causes Bruxism?
The exact cause of bruxism remains unclear, but it is believed to be from a combination of factors. Stress and anxiety are often considered as the most significant contributors because individuals may unconsciously grind their teeth as a coping mechanism. Misaligned teeth, sleep disorders, medications, and lifestyle habits such as excessive smoking or alcohol consumption can play a role.
Signs and Symptoms.
Identifying bruxism can be challenging since most individuals are unaware of their grinding habits. However, these repetitive episodes can lead to headaches, jaw pain, tooth pain, facial muscle soreness, earaches, or disrupted sleep patterns. Some people even grind to the point where they wear their enamel down, leading to flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose teeth. Bruxism can also lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, causing chronic jaw pain and restricted jaw movement.
Regular dental check-ups are important for early detection and prompt intervention should these signs appear.
First, it is essential to consult your Smile dentist. While there is no cure for bruxism, you and your dentist can manage it through a multi-faceted approach. Your dentist may conduct a dental examination or sleep study to recommend a proper course of action. Treatment plans vary depending on the severity of the condition but can include the use of dental appliances, such as custom fitted mouthguards or splints, stress management techniques, lifestyle adjustments, and orthodontic interventions. Additionally, relaxation exercises and therapy can help alleviate stress-induced teeth grinding.
Simple, long-term life adjustments can also help to alleviate the frequency of bruxism episodes. Incorporating a healthy oral routine, maintaining a balanced diet, avoiding chewing gum and ice, and avoiding alcohol or caffeine before bedtime are just a few options our Smile dentistry team recommends.
While it may be easy to dismiss teeth grinding as a mere annoyance, the potential for long-term complications should not be ignored. Recognizing the signs of bruxism, seeking early intervention, and implementing proactive measures are the keys to preventing long-term complications and ensuring a healthy, pain-free smile.