Are you one of the many Americans who experience regular teeth grinding, or bruxism, while sleeping? If so, you may be noticing a negative impact on your oral health. Here’s what you can do to address the issue.
Teeth Grinding: Causes and Impact
Conventional wisdom has it that teeth grinding is a matter of stress, and stress reduction will naturally help the problem resolve. Unfortunately, stress is only one possible cause of tooth grinding. As the folks over at Colgate explain, “it isn’t known for certain what gives way to bruxism, but both physical and psychological causes are often linked to teeth-grinding.” Beyond stress, grinding teeth may be caused by problems with your bite or with how your teeth are aligned.
Prolonged teeth grinding can spell trouble for your oral health. Grinders may experience broken or loosened teeth. In more extreme cases, damage to the integrity of a tooth can lead to a need for interventions such as bridges, crowns, or implants.
Teeth Grinding: Symptoms
There are a whole host of symptoms which may cue you into teeth grinding. If you suspect that you are grinding your teeth (or if your partner confirms that you are), you may also be experiencing these symptoms:
- Headache, especially upon waking, but which persists throughout the day
- A sore or stiff-feeling jaw
- Changes in the way your teeth feel (for example, roughness that you didn’t notice before)
- Sudden or worsening tooth sensitivity
Teeth Grinding: Solutions
The simplest intervention for those who are experiencing nighttime teeth grinding is a mouthguard. While there are mouthguards available in stores and on the internet, we strongly suggest being fitted for a custom mouthguard at your dentist. This process requires that your dentist take molds of your teeth and special-order a mouthguard created from those molds.
Beyond a mouthguard, there are steps individuals can take to decrease the grinding habit. While stress is not the only factor which can cause a grinding habit to develop, it is one possibility. A stress management plan, including but not limited to seeing a counselor, can help you to handle life stressors and decrease this physiological response to stress.
Besides stress reduction, lowering your consumption of caffeine and alcohol can help to ease grinding, as use of both of these substances are associated with an increase in grinding.
If you’re experiencing teeth grinding, discuss this problem with your dental professional as soon as possible for more support.