Learn More About Bruxism and How You Can Treat It
Just about everyone grinds or clenches their jaw from time to time. It can be a sign of nerves, stress, or just boredom. Most of the time, it doesn’t really cause harm and can be curbed as a bad habit if not done often. However, if you find yourself or are told that you are grinding or aggressively clenching your teeth habitually, it may be a problem or a sign of another health issue.
Signs of Bruxism
Teeth grinding most often occurs during sleep, so in many cases, it can be hard to identify. Some telltale signs include finding small chunks of your teeth in your mouth, feeling bite marks on your cheeks or tongue, or feeling soreness in your jaw the next day. Oftentimes, patients are informed of the habit by a loved one who can hear them grinding through the night.
While not an uncommon behavior, it can be very harmful to your teeth and gums, so it is important to discuss it with your dentist as soon as you notice the habit. If you’re a parent who is noticing bruxism developing in their child, don’t ignore it! It may not go away on its own without proper treatment or training. Plus, it can lead to headaches, pains, joint issues, sensitivity, wear to your teeth, and in extreme cases can cause your teeth to loosen from the gum or even fall out completely.
Causes of Bruxism
The severity of each patient’s condition may vary, and the learning the cause of why they are grinding can help to cease the behavior altogether. It’s been determined that nearly 70% of bruxism is developed from stress or anxiety. Suffering from acute stress or anxiety can affect your sleeping patterns as well as your vulnerability to illness. These factors can increase your chances of grinding and clenching your teeth either throughout the day or in your sleep. In turn, grinding can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep, which can make the cycle nearly impossible to break.
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Other possible causes that can increase your risk of developing bruxism are lifestyle factors, like increased exposure to psychoactive substances like coffee, alcohol, tobacco, or medications. If you have a slightly crooked jaw or your upper and lower teeth don’t align properly, there is a possibility that you will experience teeth grinding.
There are also medical conditions, illnesses, or allergies that can cause a person to grind their teeth. A common cause is sleep apnea, in which case your teeth can clench in order to allow a better air passage to your lungs. In all cases, talking to your dentist and your doctor can help you try and identify the cause of it so you can take appropriate measures to nip it in the bud.
If you are worried you may be grinding your teeth and it is negatively affecting your dental health, feel free to reach out Dr. Beaufils to discuss some possible way to treat your bruxism. He may suggest some of the following solutions:
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- Wearing a mouth guard. This solution won’t necessarily stop you from grinding your teeth, but it will protect them from being chipped or worn down. You can have one custom-made by your dentist or find a generic size at your local drug store.
- Reducing your stress levels. Children and adults can suffer from high levels of stress, and this can be a huge factor is causing teeth grinding and clenching. Observing some stress relieving habits like massaging your jaw, getting more exercise, and meditating are some great ways to try and de-stress your mind and body.
- Correcting misaligned teeth. If you find that an unaligned jaw is the cause of your bruxism or is causing it to be worse, consider an orthodontic treatment to correct it.
- Treat your sleep apnea. Talking to a sleep doctor can help you incorporate treatments into your daily life to help you sleep soundly and safely.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. If you are finding that your teeth grinding is severe or you are suffering from frequent muscle aches or headaches, you should cut down or completely cut out your caffeine and alcohol intake. These are stimulants that can cause your body and muscles to tense up and clench as a side effect.
Trying to pay attention to unconscious habits that you may have developed can also help you curb unwanted mannerisms like teeth grinding. If you catch yourself clenching or grinding, simply stick your teeth in between your upper and lower mandible to keep yourself from pressing down.
Keeping Your Smile Healthy
Being aware of your dental health and habits is an important part of maintaining impeccable oral health care. Keep up a dedicated daily routine, which means brushing and flossing twice a day, as well as setting and attending regular dental appointments is a great way to ensure that you lower your risk of developing any unwanted problems. To schedule your consultation with Dr. Lloyd Beaufils, contact our Cooper City office at 954-252-1390!