Bruxism: How does it affect your dental health
What is Bruxism (teeth grinding)?
Teeth grinding, also termed bruxism, can be a painful habit leading to many problems. This happens when teeth slide against each other forcefully and may even produce a sound. Individuals who grind their teeth may find themselves waking up with headaches, tender jaw muscles, or toothaches.
What causes teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding can be caused by many factors, including stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, misaligned bites, certain medications, and lifestyle habits like tobacco use, caffeine, and alcohol consumption.
How do you know if you grind your teeth?
Some people may not even recognize they grind their teeth, particularly if it is occurring during sleep. Often, a loved one may be the one to hear the grinding at night. Some individuals may even find themselves grinding their teeth throughout the day. Or you may be told by your dental professional during a check-up visit due to the presence of chipped or worn down teeth or other tell-tale signs. Your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination and provide a definitive diagnosis.
How does bruxism affect your teeth?
Teeth grinding and clenching your teeth together can do significant harm to your oral health. Due to the excessive force on your teeth, it may result in tooth sensitivity, fractured or chipped teeth, teeth that appear worn down, jaw pain, and cause headaches. This can result in the need for additional and costly dental procedures like root canal therapy, dental crowns, bridges or even dentures if teeth are lost.
How do you treat teeth grinding?
Depending on what’s causing you to grind your teeth and the severity, your dentist will recommend specific treatment options. They may recommend a dental mouthguard custom-fit to your teeth to help protect them from becoming worn down. If stress or anxiety is the potential cause, stress-relieving practices like listening to music, reading, exercising, counseling, or meditation may help eliminate teeth grinding. Also, placing a warm and wet washcloth on the sides of your face may help relax sore muscles. If you have an abnormal bite causing stress to your jaws, your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment, or making adjustments to teeth causing interferences when biting.
How to avoid bruxism?
The good news is that in some cases, bruxism can be avoided. If you suspect that you are grinding your teeth, be sure to inform your dentist. Try avoiding or limiting consumption of foods and beverages with caffeine, including sodas, coffee, and chocolate. Also avoid alcohol and tobacco use, as these can be triggers of teeth grinding. Making a conscious effort to not chew on tools like pencils or using your teeth to open bottles is necessary, as these habits can result in cracked teeth and even tooth loss. If you notice yourself grinding your teeth during the day, try to train yourself to become aware and make your best effort to stop. If you believe your medications are linked to your tooth grinding, consult your doctor.
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