Do you clench or grind your teeth?

 

Has someone ever told you that they hear you scraping or grinding your teeth when you are sleeping?

Have you noticed that the edges of your teeth seem worn down or are chipped and rough?

Do you suffer from jaw pain or headaches when you wake up in the morning?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be possible that you suffer from Bruxism.  What it bruxism?  Bruxism is excessive grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw that occurs when we are not eating.  Millions of Americans clench or grind their teeth.  It can happen during the day or at night when we are sleeping.  Some people may brux when they are exercising, sitting in front of a computer at work, when driving a car, or even when walking outside on a cold day.

What causes bruxism and what problems can it lead to?

The most common cause appears to be stress, but it can be caused by other factors such as our teeth not meeting properly, and as a side effect of certain medications or health conditions.  It can lead to pain in our jaw joint and muscles, interrupted sleep, wear and destruction of teeth as well as loosening of the teeth.

How can I manage or treat it?

Of course decreasing stress in our lives is important for optimal health and often can help to reduce clenching and grinding of the teeth.  For people who brux when sleeping or playing sports a protective appliance called an occlusal guard can be worn to protect the teeth.  This appliance, which is made by your dentist, is worn over the teeth so that they are protected from the scraping and clenching that can be damaging to the teeth and jaw.  In some cases orthodontic treatment or small adjustments to our teeth can make our teeth bite together in a more comfortable and stable way which can also help to reduce bruxism.

So if I brux my teeth, what should I do?

See your dentist.  Dr. Yoon a dentist in North Andover MA who provides comprehensive dental care, which includes evaluating patients for signs of tooth grinding or jaw clenching.  Your dentist can check for these issues and make a specific recommendation for how to manage or treat bruxism in the way that makes sense for you.

A patient who has worn down his front teeth

A patient who has worn down a premolar tooth

An example of one type of occlusal guard