If you wake up in the morning and feel soreness or pain in your jaw, you are certainly not alone. Clenching or grinding your teeth is a common condition called bruxism, that most times goes undiagnosed in millions of Americans every year. Oftentimes, people who grind their teeth are referred to as “bruxers,” and many don’t realize they have the disorder. Bruxism can occur for anyone, but it is more likely to develop for those who take medications, experience stress, or have smoking habits.
Many people who suffer from bruxism don’t know who to turn to. Is it their dentist or primary care physician that can help them? Is medication or surgery needed to reduce this pesky, and sometimes painful condition? Once you understand the root cause of your bruxism, it is much easier to figure out how to treat and manage your symptoms, so that you can live the quality life you deserve.
What are the symptoms of bruxism?
Many people with bruxism will experience one or more of the following symptoms. While not every person’s case is identical, there are common signs that indicate you are a bruxer. These bruxism symptoms includes, but are not limited to:
- Teeth grinding and clenching
- Frequent temple headaches
- Soreness in the jaw, neck, or face
- Flat or worn out teeth
- Sensitivity of teeth
- Clicking or popping of jaw when chewing
- Trauma to inside of cheeks from chewing on them
- Fractured dental fillings
- Fractured or loose teeth
If you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, there is a good chance you have bruxism. Sometimes, your loved ones may also be able to tell you that you grind and clench your teeth when you are asleep because they hear the sounds of it.
What are the causes of bruxism?
Doctors and dentists are not entirely sure of the reason for bruxism, but typically it is related to psychological, hereditary factors like stress, allergies, or taking certain medications.
Some people are more likely to develop bruxism because of certain risk factors like:
- Anxiety or stress makes you more likely to grind your teeth
- Medications like antidepressants can increase your risk for teeth grinding
- Frequently consuming caffeinated beverages
- Smoking or alcohol habits
- Medical disorders like Parkinson’s, sleep disorders, or ADHD
What can you do to treat bruxism symptoms?
Nearly half of all adults in the United States grind their teeth, but only 20% of this figure typically are considered bruxers. Symptoms can span from slight to moderate to severe, therefore treatment will depend on the cause and symptoms.
Why is it important to understand the etiology of bruxism? Many people are silently suffering, whether they have pain and soreness in the face or they are experiencing dental problems because of worn teeth. It is found that nearly 25% of people who experience sleep apnea-like symptoms are also bruxism patients, and around 15% of adolescents are affected by sleep bruxism. To find bruxism help, you need to speak with your dentist about treatment options and pain management to change the way you bite so you can improve your oral and overall health.
Treatment options for bruxism
Teeth grinding can be treated by finding the root cause of the condition. If you have an underlying condition like a tongue tie, it is best to get an evaluation by your dentist to check if you need a simple procedure like a frenectomy. This simple treatment may overcome your grinding issues and allow for better sleep.
Teeth grinding can be diagnosed by any dental professional from a clinical exam and medical/dental history. If your teeth appear flat or worn down or have wear facets that display a darker color, it may be a clear sign you grind at night.
Here are some of the most commonly offered treatments for bruxism that can help alleviate symptoms and improve sleep.
A custom fit mouthguard is one of the simplest and cost effective ways to manage teeth grinding at night. It prevents your upper and lower teeth from grinding and provides a barrier to avoid harsh forces distributed to your teeth and jaw. This will help reduce your symptoms of headaches and earaches. A nightguard cannot correct the root cause of teeth grinding, but it is the first step to prevent further damage.
One of the main benefits of a night guard also helps prevent TMJ problems, which is typical among bruxers. When people wake up with extreme soreness in their facial muscles, a night guard helps deprogram those muscles to relax them and stop unwanted muscle strain and spasms..
If your teeth are misaligned, it can cause bite problems. Braces and/or clear aligners are an option if you have a dental malocclusion that prevents your teeth from biting properly. It also helps properly align your teeth to make it easier to brush and floss and reduces your risk of tooth decay. When your dentist can expand the jaw and make room for all the teeth, it assists in better breathing and sleeping.
Another option is an appliance like mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue-retaining mouthpieces. MADs work by helping position the lower jaw and tongue more forward to open the airway. These appliances are custom made and mimic a sports mouth guard. A tongue-retaining mouthpiece is also beneficial because it keeps the tongue in the correct position so it doesn’t fall back and block the airway during sleep.
Botox injections relaxes strong facial muscles that bring the upper and lower jaws together. It also reduces the pain associated with grinding. Still, additional research is needed to confirm how effective and safe this treatment option is and there are always risks associated. However, many patients have found temporary relief with Botox injections, which is why it is regularly recommended for TMJ and bruxism pain.
If you suffer from bruxism pain, you don’t need to continue experiencing this discomfort and pain. Avoid living a life of taking pain medication and act now by contacting us to help treat your underlying cause of teeth grinding. You’ll quickly notice an improvement in your teeth, breathing, sleep, and quality of life.