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Bruxism: What You Should Know About Teeth-Grinding and Clenching

Does your dentist tell you your enamel is worn? Does your jaw, neck, or face often feel sore? You may have a condition called bruxism, also known as teeth-grinding or teeth-clenching. Teeth-clenching is a natural response to stress, but if it occurs frequently, it can be damaging.

Bruxism frequently occurs at night; however, it can also happen during the day. Sleep bruxism is a sleeping disorder related to other common sleep-related issues such as sleep apnea and snoring.

You might not even be aware that you have bruxism. You may only become aware of it when you search for a solution to your symptoms. It may not bother you, but teeth-grinding can result in complications with your oral health.

If you believe you may suffer from bruxism, keep reading. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about it, including the symptoms, causes, risk factors, treatments, and when to see a doctor.

Symptoms of bruxism

If you have one or more of these symptoms, it’s possible bruxism may be to blame:

  • Audible grinding or gnashing of the teeth
  • Damaged (flattened, loose, or chipped) teeth
  • Weakened enamel
  • Pain or sensitivity in the teeth
  • Tired or sore jaw
  • Locked jaw
  • Jaw, neck, or face soreness, especially in the temple or ear area
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Appearance or worsening of TMJ/TMD
  • Changed face shape

What causes bruxism?

Experts aren’t sure what causes bruxism, but there are many theories of possible causes. It may be genetic. It may be a result of psychological stress such as anxiety, depression, anger, or tension. It’s also thought that an uneven bite or crooked teeth could cause bruxism, almost as if your teeth are searching for a good fit.

Risk factors for bruxism

There are many potential risk factors for bruxism. If you fall under any of the following categories, you may be at risk.

  • Young children: Bruxism is most common in kids, and usually subsides in time. If you notice your child grinding or clenching their teeth, make a note to alert your doctor or dentist.
  • Stress or other psychological conditions: If you are frequently anxious, stressed, tense, or worried, your chances of experiencing bruxism are higher.
  • Angry or nervous personality: In the same vein as the above, personality types with tendencies towards worry, anger, or hyperactivity have a higher risk of experiencing bruxism.
  • Family history of bruxism: There is evidence the condition may be genetic. If you believe you may have it, ask your family members if they do too so you can know if that may be the cause.

When to visit a doctor or dentist

If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms, it can’t hurt to ask your doctor or dentist about bruxism. They’ll examine your face and mouth for signs, such as a sore jaw or damaged teeth.

Treatments for bruxism

The most common treatment plan for nighttime teeth-grinding is a mouthguard. A mouthguard will protect your teeth and jaw from harmful damage caused by clenching and grinding, and it will help to relieve your symptoms.

If you suspect your bruxism may be due to stress, talk to your doctor about ways to relieve stress. Decreasing your stress (whether through counseling, exercise, prescription, or another method) will not only relieve bruxism, it will boost your overall health and wellbeing. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Liberman today! Think you might have bruxism? Schedule an examination with Dr. Liberman today! Proactive dental care is the best defense against cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other threats to your dental and overall health. To schedule an examination or learn more, contact us today!

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