If you wake up with sore teeth and jaws, you may have a condition called bruxism. Grinding your teeth is also known as bruxism. Teeth grinding is usually done unconsciously in sleep, but can also happen when you are awake. During the day, while concentrating on your task, you may unknowingly be grinding your teeth. It usually occurs while lifting heavy objects, driving, reading or writing. As it most often occurs when you are asleep, you may not be aware of it. But regular grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth may affect your dental health.
Causes of Bruxism
Bruxism is frequently found among people who snore or suffer obstructive sleep apnea. It is also common among people whose lifestyle includes smoking, drinking alcohol, and caffeine. However, research has shown that a huge number of people grind their teeth because of stress. When you are stressed, anxious or frustrated, you are likely to relieve the tension by grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding is also associated with hyperactive personality types and stressful work environment. Also, if you have misaligned teeth or bite problems, you may end up grinding your teeth.
Bruxism or teeth grinding is also quite common in young children. Kids who drool at night, talk in sleep or have psychological disorders are more likely to grind their teeth.
Why grinding your teeth is bad?
As teeth grinding usually occurs while sleeping, most people are unaware of it. Often it’s the sleep partner who complains about the annoying sound of teeth clenching. Yet, most people deny they are doing it, even when the damage on their teeth makes it pretty obvious. But if you have headaches, sore and tired jaw muscles, tooth pain, earaches, tooth sensitivity or facial pain, you could be grinding teeth.
Most often bruxism is mild, but if it is frequently occurring, it must be treated. Teeth grinding aggravates the joints in your lower jaw also known as the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), causing pain in the joint area, earaches, and headaches. Bruxism also results in unhealthy teeth. It tends to wear down the protective teeth enamel, leading to teeth sensitivity, and even cracked or broken teeth.
Fortunately, in most cases, treatment is not needed. But if the condition is severe, there are ways to stop clenching your teeth. The most common way is to wear plastic mouth guards that fit over your teeth, to reduce or eliminate the damage from gnashing your teeth. Switching to a healthy lifestyle also helps to get rid of the problem. If grinding is the result of misaligned teeth or improper bite, the dentist may advise an orthodontic treatment. Fillings, crowns, and implants are other ways the damage caused by grinding can be cured.
Bruxism can occur at any age. Even if you have never clenched your teeth, it doesn’t mean you will never suffer from it. Stressful changes in your lifestyle may cause you to grind your teeth. However, it is advisable to consult a dentist to determine the cause and provide you with the best treatment.
Image Source: jean pierre gallot, Flickr