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Bruxism (Grinding) – How does it impact your teeth?

by Linda McGuire RDH

grinding 2Wear facets in back teeth

grindingWorn chewing surfaces of front teeth

grinding 3

What is Bruxism? Bruxism, also known as grinding or clenching of the teeth, is a condition that mainly impacts you in your sleep causing long term damage to your teeth, gums, and bone.  We can also grind when we are awake, but the majority of the impact is during your sleep.  The muscles have memory and will continue to grind at an even more significant rate while you sleep.

What are the signs that you may be a grinder? The photos above show some of the signs of bruxism.

  • Flattened tooth surfaces
  • Wear facets (small circular indentations mainly in the back teeth)
  • Sore jaw or teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Headaches when waking up or throughout the day
  • Ear aches
  • Breaking away of the tooth surface at the gum line (abfraction).

What are the causes of bruxism?

  • Emotions, such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension
  • Aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type
  • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion)
  • Other sleep problems, such as sleep apnea
  • Response to pain from an earache or teething (in children)
  • Stomach acid reflux into the esophagus
  • An uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as phenothiazines or certain antidepressants
  • A coping strategy or focusing habit
  • Complication resulting from a disorder such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease

Can it be prevented? Not really.  There’s no true solution to preventing or stopping bruxism.  Some tips to help reduce or alleviate some of the symptoms are as follows.

  • Physical therapy
  • Jaw relaxation exercises, be conscious of it throughout the day
  • Massage
  • Chiropractic work
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Night guard or mouth guard
  • Stress reduction
  • Avoid chewing gum and other objects
  • Drink more water
  • Get more sleep
  • Avoid caffeine or medications that cause hyperactivity

One of the best options if you are a heavy grinder is to wear a night guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.  Some people even choose to wear them during the day when they are working or concentrating due to the fact that they grind or clench during these types of situations.  Night guards can be a great solution for someone who grinds heavily while sleeping, has sleep apnea, or has a lot of stress in their life.

What should you do if you have some of these signs?  Give us a call today and come in for an appointment.  We would love to take care of you! We can get you set up with a custom made night guard or look at other options that are right for you and your condition. We hope to hear from you soon.

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