Most of us are prone to the occasional teeth grinding when something really steams us. But for sufferers of bruxism, that grinding isn’t by choice. And if left untreated, it can lead to pain, tooth damage, and other unwelcome health issues.
But, there’s no need to worry – a solution to nighttime teeth grinding can be as simple as a short trip to the dentist.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is simply defined as chronic, excessive grinding of the teeth and/or clenching of the jaw muscles. It’s not uncommon; according to the Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache, bruxism affects between 8 and 31 percent of the general population.
Many sufferers of nighttime teeth grinding may not initially know they have the condition, as it is often reported to them by their sleep partners after they’ve heard the cringeworthy noise in the middle of the night.
Even today, the causes of bruxism aren’t completely understood. However, some factors that may contribute to teeth grinding include increased stress, sleep disorders, alcohol and caffeine use, ADHD, genetics, and other issues.
Side Effects of Bruxism
Bruxism can cause a number of problems pertaining to your teeth, muscles, and cause headaches. Excessive grinding can flatten the surfaces of the teeth over time, fracture teeth or damage restorations, inflame periodontal ligaments, cause tenderness and pain in jaw muscles, restrict the mouth’s ability to open (trismus), cause headaches and pain in the temples, and cause tooth hypersensitivity.
For those who suffer from nighttime bruxism, they may notice that these symptoms are most noticeable right after waking and then subside with time.
Who is Most Prone to Bruxism?
While the specific causes of bruxism haven’t been definitively proven, some people are more prone to teeth grinding than others.
Certain prescription medications are thought to increase teeth grinding, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, and amphetamines. Bruxism is possible associated with a number of medical conditions as well, such as brain trauma, autism, epilepsy, Parkinson’s diseases, Huntington’s disease, and others.
How a Night Guard Can Ease Symptoms
One method used to relieve bruxism side effects is the use of a nighttime mouth guard, similar to what athletes use to protect teeth from impact during sports.
Mouth guards supplied by a dentist are custom-fit to your individual bite pattern, and are commonly made from acrylic materials. Night guards provide a soft barrier between your teeth, stopping the enamel surfaces from grinding against one another in your sleep. Rather than the teeth’s surfaces being worn down, the guard takes the brunt of the abrasion.
Along with protecting the enamel of your teeth, The Bruxism Association reports that many sufferers of bruxism experience fewer headaches and reduced facial pain when using a night guard.
How Herrick Family Dental Can Help
Our professionals at Herrick Dental offer custom-fit mouth guards to protect your teeth from the damage and pain associated with bruxism. These mouth guards are comfortable and sturdy, and also offer relief for those who suffer from TMJ.« Back to blog