Do you wake up with a sore jaw or a dull headache every morning? Have you experienced recent sensitivity in your teeth? If so, you may have bruxism–the term for severe teeth grinding that usually occurs overnight, while you sleep.
While the initial symptoms of bruxism may seem mild, it’s crucial that you visit a dentist as soon as possible to get your teeth grinding diagnosed and treated to prevent further tooth damage and to repair the damage that has already occurred.
How Teeth Grinding Develops
Teeth grinding can occur while you are awake or asleep. If it occurs during the day, you can consciously stop the habit by opening your jaw slightly. It’s more difficult to detect bruxism if you only clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night. However, if you wake up with headaches or a sore jaw, those are signs that you have nighttime teeth grinding.
It’s important to understand that nighttime teeth grinding is considered a sleep disorder. While it can occur by itself, it’s more common for it to occur in tandem with other sleep disorders, including snoring and sleep apnea. If you suspect you grind your teeth at night, it’s extremely important to visit a dentist to prevent serious problems in your teeth and jaw.
How Grinding Your Teeth Harms Your Oral Health
Teeth grinding that occurs over a long period of time can lead to shortened teeth due to the wearing away of the chewing surfaces, damage to your tooth enamel, and cracked or chipped teeth. It can also cause jaw disorders, like TMJ. Individuals with severe teeth grinding may notice that their upper and lower teeth fit together like a puzzle when they close their mouths.
Risk Factors that Increase Your Chances of Grinding Your Teeth
Having high levels of stress, anger and frustration for long periods of time are the most common causes of nighttime and daytime teeth grinding. If you have a stressful home and/or work situation, it’s important to take steps to manage your stress, like exercising, eating right and potentially seeing a counselor in order to develop better coping mechanisms for your stress. While you are working on lowering your stress levels, you may need a mouth guard to prevent further damage to your teeth.
Children are more likely to develop teeth grinding than adults. This problem usually corrects itself as the child gets older. However, if bruxism is affecting your child’s teeth or jaw, it’s important to visit a dentist for a diagnosis and treatment options so that the problem does not lead to long-term tooth damage.
If you have a type-A personality or a personality that is hyperactive, aggressive and/or extremely competitive, you may be more likely to develop nighttime and daytime teeth grinding.
If you take certain medications or have certain habits, like smoking, taking medications for certain mental health disorders, or using recreational drugs, you may also be more prone to developing teeth grinding.
Having a family history of teeth grinding can make you more likely to develop the condition. This means that if your mother, father, grandfather or grandmother grind their teeth, you are at a higher risk for developing the condition.
Signs You Are Experiencing Nighttime Teeth Grinding
Not sure if you’re suffering from bruxism? There are a few clues that can help you determine if you should see a dentist. You may be grinding your teeth if:
- You frequently wake up due to loud grinding sounds
- Your teeth are all one length
- You’ve experienced frequent chips and cracks in your teeth
- You experience frequent dull headaches, especially in the morning
- Your crowns, bridges and other dental work appear to be loose or damaged
- You have recent or increasing teeth sensitivity and pain
- You’ve noticed damage or injuries to the inside of your mouth, especially your cheeks
- Your teeth don’t appear as long as they once were
- You have tired or sore jaw muscles and symptoms that seem to be caused by TMJ
- You seem to have chronic earaches, but there is no infection in your ear
Diagnosing and Treating Teeth Grinding with our Miami Periodontist
The good news about teeth grinding is that it is treatable and future damage to your teeth and jaw can be prevented with help from an experienced dental professional like Dr. John Paul Gallardo in Miami.
Teeth grinding is diagnosed by taking x-rays of your teeth and performing an oral examination. Our periodontist Dr. Gallardo will also ask you about your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing issues. If our periodontist notices damage to your teeth that is consistent with nighttime and/or daytime teeth grinding, a treatment plan will be developed.
Treatments for Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding is most commonly treated with a custom mouthguard that you wear at night. This prevents further damage to your teeth and will help alleviate daytime symptoms. If you have damage to your teeth or any tooth restorations, like bridges, crowns, and implants, those items will also need to be replaced or repaired. If you have cracked or chipped teeth, a dental resin will be used to repair the cracks and chips in order to restore the appearance and structural stability of those teeth.
To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, for your nighttime teeth grinding with our periodontist, Dr. Gallardo, give us a call at 305-447-1447.