Ongoing bruxism can wear the enamel off the crowns of your teeth, cause tooth and jaw pain and migraine headaches, increase the risk of tooth chipping, and lead to other serious dental and health problems.
Signs And Symptoms Of Bruxism
You can see your periodontist to figure out if you have true bruxism or not, but it also helps to be aware of some of the basic signs and symptoms yourself.
If you're grinding your teeth during the daytime, you know about it. But most people with a teeth grinding habit do it at night, while fast asleep.
In that case, you may wake up with a hurting jaw or a terrible headache. You may have long lasting facial pain during the day. Your jaw muscles may sometimes contract of themselves rhythmically. In some cases, swelling of the lower jaw will occur.
Finally, if your spouse keeps telling you he or she keeps hearing a grinding sound at night - perhaps causing him/her to lose sleep, then that's a sure sign.
Treating Chronic Teeth Grinding
It may be that your teeth grinding is being caused by smoking, heavy drinking, high caffeine intake, or a chronic sleep disorder.
Stress, anxiety, and depression are also associated with bruxism. And, in fact, high stress levels are the number one cause of teeth grinding (around two-thirds of more of cases are stress-related.)
If your bruxism is caused by a lifestyle habit, then simply changing that habit will stop it. That makes treatment simple, if not "easy" since it requires discipline and time to form new and better habits of life.
However, with stress-caused teeth grinding, it's not so simple. You can get help and tips on stress-reduction, but there's no "switch" you can just flip to turn the stress off. Therefore, you'll likely need to wear an occlusal appliance.
Occlusal appliances are mouth guards used to prevent you from grinding your teeth. Generally, they are only worn at night, though daytime use is not unheard of.
Each appliance is custom-fit to the exact contours of the patient's mouth. They are made of plastic and simply slip on/off your upper or lower teeth. Such devices can do wonders to protect your tooth enamel and de-stress your TMJ (lower jaw) joint.
Finally, another treatment option is wearing a mandibular advancement device. These devices are similar to occlusal appliances but fit over both upper and lower teeth and draw your lower jaw forward. This kind of device helps prevent snoring, sleep apnea, and teeth grinding.
Given the wide variety of causes of bruxism, treatments will vary from patient to patient. So you'll have to discuss treatment options with your periodontist. But the above are the most common treatments that are typically prescribed, and they have a good track record of success.
To learn more about the causes and cures of teeth grinding, or to schedule a diagnostic interview to determine if you have bruxism, feel free to contact periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, today!