Grinding your teeth might not seem like a serious problem, but it can increase your risk of damaging them. Keep in mind that you might not even be aware that you do it since this behavior usually happens while you’re sleeping. If you have a sore jaw when you wake up, this could be a sign that you grind your teeth. Having this problem treated, which usually involves the use of a night guard, can lower your risk of tooth damage.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, occurs when you clench your jaws together repeatedly. This can happen if you’re under a lot of stress or if you have a sleep disorder. You might also grind your teeth if you have tooth or jaw problems, such as missing teeth, crooked teeth or an overbite or underbite. Your risk of grinding your teeth might also be higher if you smoke, drink alcohol, have chronic anxiety or have family members with this problem.
As mentioned, teeth grinding typically happens while you sleep, which can make it hard to determine if you have this problem. Some other signs to watch for include:
- Dull headaches
- Loose teeth
- Tooth pain or tooth fractures
The muscles in your jaw can become sore from being clenched, while headaches can occur due to the tension. Tooth problems can develop if you leave bruxism untreated and continue grinding your teeth night after night. You might also have swollen gums, soreness in your cheeks or tooth sensitivity.
What Are My Treatment Options?
When this problem occurs in children, treatment isn’t always needed. Children’s jaws are still developing and growing at this time, so this problem usually corrects itself without causing any long-term damage. Bruxism in adults, however, has a higher risk of resulting in tooth damage, since the teeth and jaws have stopped growing. If you have signs of this problem, seeing a dentist for treatment is important. This reduces the risk of fracturing your teeth or having other problems develop.
Treatments for grinding your teeth include taking muscle relaxants before going to sleep or using mild sleeping aids. However, taking any type of medication for teeth grinding is only a short-term solution and should not be done over a long period of time. You might also benefit from managing stress if anxiety causes you to grind your teeth. Orthodontic treatment for bruxism is also available. This involves being fitted with a night guard that protects your teeth while you’re asleep. The night guard, which is made from plastic and is specially formed to your bite, helps reduce the amount of pressure on your teeth and jaw.
If you deal with teeth grinding, please contact Premier Dental Care to make an appointment with our dentist. We can fit you with a night guard to help prevent bruxism from damaging your smile!