Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding and clenching that damages teeth and may cause facial pain. People who grind, often called bruxers, unintentionally bite down too hard at inappropriate times, such as during sleep. Many people are unaware that they even have bruxism since it often occurs while they’re sleeping. If you wake up with dull headaches or vise-like pain, you may be one of many people suffering from bruxism, which we can usually detect from the telltale signs on your teeth.
Bruxism can either directly or indirectly cause many problems. Grinding can cause teeth to become painful or loose, or literally grind away parts of their teeth, leaving them with worn surfaces or fractured enamel. People who have otherwise healthy teeth and gums can clench so often and so hard that over time their teeth become sensitive and they experience jaw pain and headaches. Forceful biting when not eating may cause the jaw to move out of proper balance.
Grinding is a common occurrence among many people at some time or another. If you develop facial pain, fatigue or other problems, treatment may be needed. Talk to us if you suspect that you are grinding your teeth. During your next visit we will check for physical signs of bruxism. When a person has bruxism, the tips of the teeth look flat. Teeth are worn down so much that the enamel is rubbed off, exposing the inside of the tooth, which is called dentin. When exposed, dentin may become sensitive.
Bruxers may experience pain in their temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or the jaw, which may manifest itself as popping and clicking. One out of every 10 Americans suffers from chronic headaches, and spend over hundreds of millions of dollars annually for over-the-counter medications to relieve their pain. TMJ symptoms can include: headaches, earaches, ear ringing, loud jaw clicking, stiffness and pain in the jaw, neck, shoulders or back. Headaches can also be caused when your jaw-to-skull relationship is out of alignment due to bruxism.
Non- surgical therapies for both bruxism and TMJ often includes the wearing of a nightguard, to prevent wear and tear on both the teeth and the joints. If you suffer from bruxism and TMJ, we can provide you with a nightguard or occlusal splint and explain how and why to use it.