How to Stop Grinding Teeth
Teeth grinding or bruxism is a type of movement disorder characterized by the clenching, gnashing or grinding of the teeth. People with this condition either unconsciously clench their teeth during the day (awake bruxism) or grind them during their sleep (sleep bruxism). It is a fairly common condition, with an estimated 8% of adults grinding their teeth at night and more than a third of parents reporting symptoms of bruxism in their children. When done occasionally, clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth isn’t harmful. However, if you find yourself doing this regularly, it can result in severe dental damage.
Your teeth are made up of three layers, pulp, dentin, and enamel. The enamel covers and protects the dentin and the sensitive pulp, which houses nerves and blood vessels. Hard as the enamel is, it is still susceptible to damage. So, when teeth grinding goes untreated, it slowly wears down the enamel, exposing the sensitive dentin and pulp to bacteria. If you grind your teeth, search for a “dentist near me.” Our emergency dentists in Easton, PA, will treat the condition, so it doesn’t progress and lead to more serious dental issues.
How Do I Know if I Have Bruxism?
Sleep bruxism may be hard to notice until you develop severe complications, especially if you don’t visit your Easton, PA dentist often. On a side note, sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder, and people with this condition are more likely to develop other sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
So catching the condition early enough may allow you to diagnose another sleep-related condition.
Symptoms of Bruxism
An estimated 80% of adults who suffer from bruxism may not even be aware they have the condition until it is too late, so watch for some of these symptoms.
- Teeth grinding or clenching at night. It may be loud enough for someone close by to hear, like a spouse or a parent.
- Increased tooth pain or sensitivity.
- Worn or cracked enamel.
- Teeth that look fractured, flattened, chipped, or loose.
- A locked jaw that won’t open or close completely.
- A dull headache starting at the temples.
- Soreness or pain in the jaw, neck, and face.
- Disrupted sleep.
- Damaged inner cheek due to chewing on it.
Admittedly, most of these symptoms will occur if you’ve been grinding your teeth for a while. Dr. Kristina Neda, a dentist in Georgetown, KY, agrees that tooth sensitivity may be the first sign you have sleep bruxism. So, contact an Easton, PA dentist, as soon as you notice it for treatment.
How Do You Treat Teeth Grinding?
Your dentist in Easton, PA, will most likely be checking your teeth for signs of grinding during your regular exams. Dr. Ben Kacos, a dentist in Shreveport, LA, agrees that if you experience any of the symptoms described above, inform your dentist. They will look for changes in your teeth and mouth over the next few visits and if they suspect you have sleep bruxism, they will:
- Check for tenderness in your jaws
- Look for any damage to your teeth, the underlying bone, and inside of your cheeks.
If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend that you wear a splint or a mouthguard when you sleep. Usually constructed from hard acrylics or soft materials, they separate your top and bottom teeth and prevent them from sustaining the damage caused by grinding or clenching. However, you should know that these oral appliances don’t stop you from grinding teeth; they prevent your teeth from being damaged. Addressing the root cause of your bruxism may help alleviate the condition.
Causes of Bruxism
Stress and anxiety may be causing you to grind your teeth. Learning strategies to cope with stress and to promote relaxation, such a meditation, may prevent the problem.
If your Easton, PA dentist determines that your bruxism is stress-related, they may refer you to a licensed therapist or counselor. They may also recommend short term use of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication to help you deal with the stress.
- Awake bruxism – usually caused by stress, anxiety, tension, or even concentration, you may be able to change the behavior by practicing proper jaw and mouth position.
- Sleep bruxism – your dentist may prescribe a mouthguard and refer you to a sleep specialist to treat any sleep-related disorders. If issues such as sleep apnea are treated, it may improve your sleep bruxism.
If you have bruxism, the treatment Dr. David Moghadam recommends will depend on your specific circumstances. However, don’t wait for any of the symptoms described above to manifest before you seek help. Keeping up with your regular dentist appointments will allow your dentist to catch the condition early enough. If you do grind your teeth, our College Hill Dental Group team is here to help. Contact us today for a consultation.