You may be unknowingly destroying your teeth enamel and wearing down your teeth while you sleep. Do you ever wake up with an achy jaw? Do you ever notice loose, wiggling teeth or have sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods? All of these can be signs that you are grinding your teeth at night. Bruxism is the dental term for grinding your teeth. Bruxism is especially common at night, affecting over 30 million people in America. Read more to learn how to tell if you’re grinding and what to do about it.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism means grinding your teeth. It is often an unconscious action and is most common at night while you sleep. Since it happens as you sleep, many people are unaware that they do it. This violent bashing of your teeth against each other is harmful in several ways. It can wear down the enamel on your teeth, causing sensitivity as your dentin becomes exposed. It can also loosen your teeth in their sockets and change the way teeth fit together when you bite down. This mis-alignment in your bite can also cause excessive wear on your jaw joint, causing pain and permanent damage.
Signs of Bruxism
- loose teeth
- sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods
- tight or sore jaw muscles
- damaged teeth or fillings
- popping or clicking when you open your jaw
- persistant headaches or face muscle pain
- grinding noises at night
Causes of Bruxism
There are several suspected causes of bruxism, and often a combination of factors can lead to bruxism. A common cause is anxiety or stress. As stress levels rise, our bodies find ways to cope with the added stress. Grinding your teeth often happens at night because these stress management methods are usually controlled by your subconscious. Another common cause of bruxism is when your teeth are misaligned. This can be because of a new crown or filling, missing filling or tooth, jaw fracture, oral tumors, or bad oral habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Anything that changes the way your teeth align makes your brain try to adjust by grinding down the too-high contact points.
Other, less common causes can be more severe. Bruxism is a side effect of Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, some rare nerve disorders can cause bruxism. It can also sometimes be a side effect of medications.
Prevention and Treatment
If your bruxism starts after recent dental care, contact your dentist to have them check for poorly fitted fillings or crowns. Even contacts that are just a few millimeters high can cause serious jaw misalignment. If you’ve had an increase in stress or anxiety, try stress reduction techniques like meditation, relaxation and breathing exercises, and reducing caffeine intake, especially right before bedtime.
If your bruxism is persistent and these methods don’t reduce it, see your dentist about a nighttime mouthguard. A guard can be a simple yet effective way to prevent your jaw from grinding at night. This protects your teeth, enamel, gums, and jaw from the negative side effects of bruxism.
Need a dental professional to look for signs of grinding at night? Call West One Family Dental in Colorado Springs for compassionate and knowledgeable care!