Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth, is a common health concern for which we regularly assist our patients at Tribeca Dental Care. For many patients, they may not even be aware that they grind their teeth as this occurs while they are sleeping.
Teeth grinding can have several negative effects. These include damage to the teeth, the jaw joint, and the jaw muscles. It can even cause changes to daily facial expressions.
Bruxism has several telltale signs for which patients can look. Here is a brief overview of the signs of teeth grinding, the underlying causes, and possible solutions for the ailment.
Signs of Teeth Grinding
There are several signs that a person has bruxism. The first of these is wear to the teeth. If a person’s teeth are all the same length or appear flat, this is a sign of teeth grinding during sleep.
Other, less obvious, signs include neck pain due to muscle tensing, earaches, jaw pain, the jaw joint producing clicking sounds, loose teeth, a pain in the area just below the ears, morning headaches, sore teeth, and a white line on the inside of the cheek.
Any of these symptoms are signs of bruxism with headaches being the most common. Bruxism is a very common condition and also a naturally occurring one as it has been observed in utero.
What Causes Teeth Grinding
What exactly causes teeth grinding isn’t entirely known. Linked causes include stress, smoking, anxiety, the consumption of alcohol and sleep disorders.
Malocclusion – or a misaligned bite, with the upper and lower teeth not coming together properly as the jaws close – is also understood to be a factor in teeth grinding.
In general, it is far more common in people with sleep apnea and those who smoke, drink alcohol, and intake caffeine. The link to stress should also be taken into consideration as 70 percent of people grind their teeth when they are stressed.
Bruxism shows signs of being a hereditary condition, so if a person’s parents grind their teeth, there is a greater chance their children will as well. Malocclusion is also known to be hereditary.
For patients suffering from teeth grinding and it’s effects, we recommend the following solutions. First and foremost, the root cause of what is causing the condition has to be determined. For example, if the root cause is stress-related then changes in behavior and lifestyle can prove effective.
For sleep apnea, mandibular advancement devices (which pull the lower jaw forward) are advised. In many cases a mouth guard is the best solution as bruxism is done while sleeping, making it difficult to consciously prevent. A custom fitted mouth guard protects not only the teeth, but also the jaw joint and connected muscle groups. Determining the best solution requires examination by a dental professional.
Tribeca Dental Care
At Tribeca Dental Care we offer proven solutions for teeth grinding. As the above notes, one the best ways to protect teeth from bruxism is using a mouth guard while sleeping. If you suffer from teeth grinding, contact us today for more information about our customized mouth guards and to schedule a consultation.