A lot of people have experienced pain in the mouth and severe tooth sensitivity as a result of them unconsciously grinding, gnashing, or clenching their teeth. This condition is, in fact, a medical condition called bruxism. It can be awake bruxism when you unconsciously clench the teeth while you are awake and sleep bruxism when you clench your teeth when you are sleeping.
When bruxism becomes a serious problem, it leads to frequent and severe headaches, jaw disorders, enhanced tooth sensitivity, and damaged teeth. Therefore, taking the symptoms seriously is something that you must do in order to prevent this condition from becoming a threat to your overall health. Let’s take a closer look at it.
Why am I grinding the teeth?
Stress and anxiety are the most common causers of bruxism. Also, sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly, is known to cause teeth grinding. As a result, your jaw will be sore and tender, and you will start having headaches every time you wake up. Some more serious consequences are fracturing, loosening, or losing teeth.
What are the symptoms of bruxism?
All things considered, here is what you might experience that can later indicate that you are dealing with bruxism:
- Flattened, chipped, fractured or loose teeth
- Worn out tooth enamel, exposed dentin
- Loud grinding of the teeth that wakes up your sleep partner
- Enhanced tooth sensitivity or tooth pain
- A tired or locked jaw that doesn’t function normally
- Sore neck, or face
- Pain similar to an earache
- Temple pain
- Disrupted sleep
What to do to stop teeth grinding?
Of course, the first thing to do when experiencing these symptoms is to call the doctor and set up an appointment. They will do an oral exam and advise you on how you can relieve stress and anxiety. If stress is the problem that causes the condition, then you will be given expert counseling advice on how to deal with stress and perhaps receive a prescription about medicine for relaxing the muscles.
If it is sleep bruxism, then your dentist will give you a mouth guard for you to wear during sleep, which will help you prevent teeth grinding.
Something else you can do on your own is don’t consume caffeinated drinks and snacks such as colas, coffee, and chocolate. Also, it would help if you avoided alcohol because alcohol leads to enhanced teeth grinding. Another thing is to avoid chewing everything that is not food (e.g., pencils, pens, etc.) because in this way you will let the muscles relax when they are not doing their primary work – chew food.
Finally, you can relax your jaw muscles if you hold a warm washcloth against the cheek in the direction to the ear (along the jawline).
Some extra info about the risk factors
Bruxism can be intensified if particular things continue to be part of a person’s life. As mentioned before, stress is the number 1 causer. However, anger and frustration are also potent factors that make the person clench their teeth. Moreover, age plays a significant role in the appearance of bruxism. As a condition, it is very common in young children, but as a habit, it goes away in adult life.
Moreover, the personality type of the person is extremely important. If the person is aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive, then the chances are greater for that person to develop bruxism.
Also, people who take antidepressants or smoke tobacco, drink caffeinated drinks and use recreational drugs are most likely to develop this condition, and in their cases, it will be seriously unpleasant.
Interesting is the fact that if there are people with bruxism in the family, the chances are higher that you will also have it. However, it is more notable that people carrying certain mental disorders like Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder, night terror, epilepsy, and other sleep-related disorders are more likely to start grinding their teeth.
The bottom line
Teeth grinding is a serious medical condition that must be taken care of. You should immediately set up an appointment with the dentists so that they can see how severe the developed bruxism is and instruct you further. If not treated right away, teeth grinding will lead to serious health problems, including constant headaches, problems with the proper functioning of the jaws, and it will damage the teeth.
It is easy to treat, and the most common way to treat it is by wearing a mouthguard. However, if the teeth are damaged or there are other problems like the ones already mentioned, then a prolonged therapy and healing will take place.