Have you been waking up in the mornings with a hurting jaw and teeth? This could be because you’ve been grinding or clenching your teeth while you slept. If this frequently happens to you, it is prudent to visit your dentist and ensure you don’t have bruxism.
If you’re not sure about what bruxism is, continue reading.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a medical condition where you unconsciously grind, clench, and gnash your teeth. In some cases, you could clench your teeth when you’re awake without being aware of it (awake bruxism). If you clench and grind your teeth when you’re asleep, it’s referred to as sleep bruxism.
While the exact causes of bruxism remain unknown, most healthcare professionals believe it could be caused by a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors. Stress, anxiety, and emotions such as anger and frustration can cause people to clench their teeth. Bruxism could also be a sleep-related chewing activity, but it’s not always possible to pinpoint a particular cause for your condition.
Mild bruxism may not require any medical intervention or treatment. However, frequent and intense episodes of bruxism could lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth, and other oral issues. Most people may not realize that they have bruxism until such complications develop.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Here are some common symptoms of bruxism you can keep an eye out for:
- Chipped, flattened, or fractured teeth
- Worn tooth enamel that exposes deep layers of your tooth
- Increased pain and sensitivity in your teeth
- Tired or tight jaw muscles
- A locked jaw that doesn’t open and close easily or completely
- Loose teeth
- Loud teeth grinding or clenching that wakes up your sleeping partner
- Soreness in your jaw, neck, or face
- Dull headaches at your temples
How Can Nightguards Protect Your Teeth?
There are no medications to prevent teeth grinding. However, a dentist could recommend wearing a nightguard before bed every night to reduce the effects of bruxism. Nightguards are usually made of hard acrylic materials that do not cause any harm to your teeth and gums.
A custom mouthguard can help you sleep better while protecting your teeth at night. Wearing a nightguard means that there is a protective barrier between your lower and upper teeth, meaning you don’t have to worry about chips or cracks in your teeth or experience pain in your jaw, face, or neck.
While you could use an over-the-counter nightguard to minimize the damage caused by frequent clenching and grinding, we would recommend against it for continued use. Nightguards customized for your mouth are more durable and comfortable. So you can use them over a long time unless your mouth experiences significant structural changes.
Apart from nightguards, you could also benefit from some lifestyle changes such as practicing stress-reduction exercises and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Talk to a dentist about your condition and consider their advice before making an informed choice for your oral health.
If you’re looking for dental experts in Dearborn, get in touch with our team at Dearborn Family Smiles. We can evaluate the severity of your bruxism and create customized nightguards to prevent it from damaging your teeth and jaw. Book an appointment with us today, or reach out to us if you have further questions! You can call us at 313-251-5272 or contact us online!