Have you ever considered if you grind your teeth? This is a common issue that dental hygienists encounter - the aftermath of teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. Most individuals grind their teeth occasionally, often when stressed or anxious. However, for many people, it frequently happens during sleep, making it more difficult to recognize. Your loved ones may hear you grinding your teeth in your sleep, similar to how they hear you snore.
Over time, teeth grinding can cause issues with your teeth, jaw, and face. Do you experience any of the following symptoms: neck pain, jaw or face pain, jaw clicking, earaches, loose teeth, tooth sensitivity, or dull headaches upon waking up? Usually, the most noticeable symptoms are the constant headache and sore jaws caused by prolonged muscle tension or contraction. Loose teeth and tooth sensitivity can become bigger problems later on.
If you grind your teeth consistently, it can wear down your teeth, resulting in a flat and level appearance. Sometimes, there may be a white line on the inside of your cheeks, and your tongue may appear scalloped on the sides. Teeth that are subjected to pressure can crack, loosen, or even fall out. The possibility of tooth loss is the most concerning outcome, but any of these issues can require more complex solutions such as bridges, crowns, implants, root canals, or partial or complete dentures.
To prevent teeth grinding, the simplest solution is to wear a mouthguard while sleeping. Although this won't prevent clenching, it will prevent contact between teeth. Stress is a common cause of teeth grinding, so discussing your options for reducing stress with your doctor can be beneficial. Additionally, your dentist may recommend limiting caffeine or alcohol intake and avoiding chewing habits.
If you're experiencing discomfort or are concerned about teeth grinding, speak with your dentist at your next appointment. Maintaining good oral health goes beyond brushing and flossing, so don't hesitate to address and fix any problems. Relaxation techniques such as exercise, a hot bath, or a hot cloth held to your jaw before bed can also be helpful.
Dental Associates of West Michigan