Clenching and grinding is a habit called bruxism. It is a tremendously destructive habit that can wear down your teeth, cause gum recession and affect your jaw joints. Luckily, when you visit our dental practice, we can easily diagnose the signs of bruxism and provide suitable treatment.
What is bruxism?
If you have bruxism, you will clench and grind your teeth subconsciously. Although this habit can occur while you are awake, it most often happens during sleep. Most people will grind their teeth occasionally, which won’t cause any lasting damage, but if you begin to clench and grind your teeth more frequently, it’s important to seek proper treatment.
What causes bruxism?
Bruxism is often linked to other sleep disorders like sleep apnoea and insomnia. It can manifest during periods of high stress or when someone feels anxious or depressed. Other factors that can cause bruxism include occlusal problems, where your teeth don’t bite together properly. When you have an improper bite, it can make you more likely to clench and grind your teeth. Bruxism may also be due to acid reflux and has even been linked to excessive consumption of caffeine.
What are the signs of bruxism?
Because bruxism often occurs during sleep, people are frequently unaware they have this habit. They may be alerted to the problem by sleeping partners because, as you can imagine, teeth grinding can become pretty noisy.
Potential signs of bruxism include waking up with a headache or jaw pain, or painful teeth. You may notice your jaw joints make a clicking or popping sound when you open your mouth, and it could be painful to move your jaw or perform everyday actions like chewing food. You might find your teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold, and this is because bruxism wears away the protective layer of tooth enamel so the sensations can more easily penetrate the teeth and reach the tooth nerve. If you look at your teeth, they may appear worn, chipped or cracked. In severe cases of bruxism, teeth may be so damaged that they become loose.
Diagnosing and treating bruxism
If any of these signs sound familiar, please book a consultation with our dentist. We can soon diagnose signs of bruxism and discuss suitable ways to treat this problem. One of the easiest treatments is to provide you with a custom-made nightguard. The nightguard will fit over your teeth, usually your upper teeth, so your lower teeth grind harmlessly against the guard. Wearing a nightguard can be enough to break the habit of bruxism.
Other possible treatments include restorative dentistry to mend teeth damaged by bruxism. We will also want to check your bite to make sure your teeth bite or occlude correctly, and if necessary, we can make adjustments so they bite together more smoothly.
Self-help treatments can also be useful, so try to reduce your stress levels and avoid consuming too much caffeine before bedtime. Make sure you have a regular bedtime routine, limiting your screen time before sleeping, so you feel more relaxed.