Many people who clench their teeth from time to time shouldn’t worry as it is a normal occurrence that doesn’t typically cause harm to your teeth. However, grinding your teeth on a regular basis is a condition called bruxism, which is where the state of your teeth is compromised, and oral health complications can arise.
Bruxism is a medical condition that causes you to clench your jaws or grind your teeth in rhythmic contractions, both of which are typically done unconsciously in your sleep. Some patients, however, suffer from bruxism during the day when doing tasks that require concentration such as driving, reading, writing, or even lifting heavy objects.
What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
The Bruxism Association found that people who continually grind their teeth are three times more likely to suffer from headaches, which is why it is one of the most common symptoms of bruxism. Other symptoms include muscle aches, stiffness of the shoulders and neck, ear pain, sleep disorders, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort, as well as enlargement of the facial muscles. In worst-case scenarios, bruxism can wear and tear your teeth, which ultimately results in fracture and loss of teeth.
What are the Causes of Bruxism?
Studies show that one of the leading causes of bruxism is obstructive sleep apnea, which is why people who frequently snore may also experience rhythmic contractions in their jaw when they sleep. One of the factors that contribute to it includes stress, anxiety, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, caffeine, as well as depression. There are also specific medications, such as antidepressants, that are severely linked with teeth grinding.
Others, however, suffer from bruxism due to bite misalignment. When the bite is disturbed, the jaw tends to unconsciously line up the crooked teeth in the best possible manner, which leads to grinding. For those who are experiencing bruxism due to missing or misaligned teeth, it’s best to consult a dentist for treatment.
Ways to Prevent Teeth Grinding
1. Wear a Night Guard
Your dentist will prescribe you to wear a nightguard if you are suffering from bruxism. It is tailor-made to fit over the top of your teeth correctly and is generally made from plastic or acrylic. While wearing it on a nightly basis, won’t stop you from grinding; it’s an effective tool that can protect your teeth from taking further damage.
2. Practice a Stress-Relieving Routine
If you’re struggling with constant stress, opting for a major sweat session or just a light stroll can do wonders for alleviating tension. Beyond exercise, you can do other soothing methods such as drawing a warm bath before bed as it can help relax your jaw muscle before you hit the hay to reduce grinding.
3. Reduce Bad Habits in Your Lifestyle
You can decrease the chances of bruxism during your sleep by cutting back on foods and drinks that contain high amounts of caffeine such as colas, chocolate, and coffee. Minimize your alcohol consumption too, as alcohol largely contributes to grinding. Other harmful habits such as chewing on gum, pens, or pencils should be avoided at all costs as it allows your jaw muscles to get used to clenching and increases the likelihood of you grinding your teeth.
If you’re looking for a local dentist to help you with your teeth grinding, get in touch with us today for a free consultation!