HAVE YOU EVER woken up with a sore jaw, tooth pain, or a headache? These are common symptoms of sleep bruxism, or teeth-grinding. The American Dental Association estimates that 10-15 percent of adults struggle with sleep bruxism, and children can experience it too. Because it happens during sleep, it can be difficult to control or stop.
The most common signs of teeth grinding are:
1. Being Told You Grind Your Teeth
The most common way patients first find out they grind their teeth is being told by someone, usually a partner, who witnesses it. Teeth grinding can be distinctly heard and the movement of the jaw can be seen. Remember, children can experience sleep bruxism too and parents should know the signs.
2. Jaw soreness or tight jaw muscles.
Teeth grinding can put stress and strain on your jaw muscles, making them inflamed. In the morning, your jaw may hurt and feel stiff. Also, your teeth or face may ache, it can be difficult for you to open your mouth or chew, or you hear clicking or popping when you talk or chew.
3. Flat, loose or chipped teeth.
When looking at a mirror, you may have noticed excessive wear in your teeth: Molars look flat on top, cracks in your teeth, front teeth are worn-down or unexplained chipped teeth.
4. Frequent headaches.
Pressure from teeth grinding can cause frequent headaches. These are usually begin near the jaw or around the temples. They can be mild or intense.
5. Increased tooth sensitivity.
Teeth grinding can wear away your tooth enamel leaving your teeth sensitive to hot and cold.
Teeth Grinding Can Lead to Loss of Teeth & More
If you experience any of these signs, schedule a consultation with your dentist right away for a proper diagnosis and treatment. If left unmanaged, chronic teeth grinding can result in:
Fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may also wear teeth down to stumps. In time, you may need bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures to restore your smile. Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face. One way to protect the teeth from the damaging effects of grinding is to wear a night guard.
What Night Guards Are
Night guards come in hard, medium, and soft varieties, with the soft ones resembling mouth guards for sports and hard ones resembling clear plastic retainers, though they’re much sturdier and you usually only need one for the upper teeth. Wearing a night guard provides a cushioning effect so that the upper and lower teeth can’t wear away at each other. It will protect your teeth from external damage caused by grinding, such as chipping and erosion, but as long as the grinding still happens, other symptoms like jaw pain may not change.
Where To Get Yours
You can either buy your night guard over-the-counter or get a custom night guard from the dentist. A typical over-the-counter night guard requires you to shape it to your teeth by boiling it, allowing it a moment to cool, and then gently biting into it. If you obtain your night guard through your dentist, the added comfort and quality is well worth it. These night guards are made in a laboratory from an impression of your teeth taken by dental professionals. Professionally-made night guards tend to fit more securely, last longer and are less bulky, which will increase the likelihood that you will wear your night guard every night. Most insurances also cover night guards which can help make the cost on par with over the counter versions.
Ask Us About Your Night Guard
If you think you might have bruxism, don’t wait; come talk to us about it. Your dentist can examine your teeth for tell-tale signs of teeth grinding. We can get you your perfect night guard, and we can also help you with other methods of reducing the symptoms, such as discussing ways to reduce stress levels and recommending an orthodontist if misaligned teeth are contributing to the grinding. Treating teeth grinding can help prevent damage to your teeth and gums that can lead to more expensive and invasive procedures, so schedule your consultation today by giving us a call or booking an appointment online.