Learn How Bruxism Can Affect Your Oral Health
The medical term for the habit of clenching and or grinding teeth is called Bruxism. It can have many different side effects. Patients with this habit may or may not be aware they are bruxing. Some patients experience pain symptoms while others do not.
Your dentist is able to diagnosis bruxism by assessing your:
- Pattern of wear on teeth
- Muscle tenderness to palpation
- Pain symptoms
What causes bruxism?
We are currently uncertain what causes bruxism to occur, but know that a number of different things contribute such as:
- Stress and anxiety
- Sleep disorders
- Abnormal bite patterns
- Pain that feels like an earache
- Sore or tired jaw and jaw muscles
- Frequent tooth sensitivity or aches
- Facial muscle pain
- Worn or cracked teeth, fillings, crowns
- Loose teeth
- Flattened/worn occlusion
- Grinding that can cause a loud enough sound to wake yourself or a sleep partner
Grinding can cause wear on chewing surfaces or at gum line surfaces of teeth over time. Also dental restorations such as fillings, crowns, bridges, and partials can also wear down and sometimes fracture. Chronic bruxism can cause enamel to be worn off exposing the dentin layer of the teeth (The second layer of tooth found just under the enamel). It is also possible to wear your occlusion into a flattened plane and to lose facial height when you are a chronic grinder.
- Cut back on caffeine use
- Avoid alcohol, grinding tends to intensify after consumption of alcohol
- If you notice that you grind or clench during the day try and train yourself to not grind by relaxing muscles and jaw whenever you notice it occurring. You may also try placing tip of tongue in between your teeth to help train yourself to keep your teeth apart.
- Wear a night guard at night to protect teeth from wear and help relieve sore muscles and jaw
- Avoid chewing on pens, pencils or anything that is not food.
- Avoiding chewing gum and really chewy crunchy foods.
Your dentist can have a custom night guard fabricated for you that perfectly fits your teeth and is appropriate for your specific symptoms. They are often made from both a hard and soft acrylic material. This helps protect against damage, wear and can decrease symptoms when grinding does occur.
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