Grinding your teeth may seem like a harmless habit, but it can actually cause annoying symptoms as well as serious dental issues.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Sometimes the cause of teeth grinding (which is also called bruxism) can’t be determined. In other cases, however, it may be related to one or more of the following:
- Teeth problems – teeth that are missing, crooked, or don’t line up correctly
- Stress – increased anxiety, stress, anger, or frustration
- Medications – certain psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, can make you more likely to grind your teeth
- Other substances – such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
- Medical disorders – such as sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and dementia
- Genetics – if you have family members who grind their teeth, you may be more likely to grind yours as well
What are the Symptoms of Grinding Your Teeth?
Some people grind their teeth when they’re awake, but it mainly happens when they’re asleep. If that’s the case, you may not realize what’s happening unless a sleep partner hears you grinding your teeth.
You should be aware of the following symptoms of teeth grinding:
- Tight or painful jaw muscles
- Long-lasting facial plain
- Swelling on the lower side of your jaw
- Constant dull headache
- Ear pain
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort
- Teeth wear, fractures, chips, or other damage
- Worn teeth enamel
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
How is Bruxism Treated?
Below, are some of the treatments that can be used for teeth grinding:
Stress relief – using meditation or other relaxing activities
Medication – usually used in the short-term and can include muscle relaxants
Treating medical disorders – such as sleep apnea or GERD
Dental correction – for severe cases that have caused damage to your teeth, this can include crowns
Mouth guards – can be custom-designed by your dentist to keep teeth separated so you can’t grind them
Change some habits – avoid alcohol and caffeine, and don’t chew on any non-food items, like pencils; also avoid chewing gum, since it clenches your jaw muscles.
What Should You Do If You Grind Your Teeth?
Keep a list of your symptoms and make an appointment with a dentist so they can examine your teeth and mouth for any signs of bruxism. The earlier the problem is detected, the sooner treatment can begin and your teeth can be protected. The longer bruxism continues, the more likely it is that your teeth suffer more extensive damage.
If you think you may be grinding your teeth, make an appointment today with Central Avenue Dental in Manhattan and Valley Stream, NY. We offer the full range of dental services and have earned a reputation as one of New York’s premier dental practices.