Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, affects millions of people every day, although many sufferers are not even aware that it is occurring. The reason people are unaware of this problem is that it happens while they are asleep. Nocturnal bruxism, as this sleep-related problem is called, is often a result of stress. Stress is caused by many different factors.
In addition to stress, bruxism may be the result of uneven teeth. If your teeth are not lining up properly, they may rub against each other. This type of grinding can make your mouth and jaw sore and can result in headaches. It can also break fillings and cause further damage to teeth.
A few symptoms to watch out for would include the following:
• Waking up with a headache or sore jaw.
• Facial or jaw pain throughout the day.
• Broken dental fillings.
• The appearance of swelling in the lower jaw.
• Experiencing pain when moving your jaw.
If you recognize any of these symptoms, you should consult with your dentist on the right course of treatment. The cause may be stress, unevenness of the teeth or, in some rare cases, a side effect of medication. Dr. Coffee will be able to make that determination. If you are a teeth grinder, a course of treatment will be prescribed. For children who grind their teeth, most will outgrow bruxism by the time they become teenagers.
The treatment for bruxism will depend on the cause. If it is determined that stress is the main contributor to teeth grinding, then you may need to seek professional counseling on effective ways of dealing with your anxiety. If your teeth grinding is caused by an uneven bite, then your dentist can recommend various procedures to help restore the biting surface. Onlays or crowns may be used in an effort to reshape your teeth.
A mouth guard can also be used to alleviate the problem of teeth grinding. While this may not provide a long-term solution to bruxism, in the short term it can help alleviate pain. Using a mouth guard will also protect your fillings from breaking and will help the muscles of your mouth relax. You can buy mouth guards over-the-counter at most drug stores, but for a better fit Dr. Coffee can mold one for you. Splints are another alternative that your dentist can either make for you or have made in a laboratory. Dr. Coffee may also recommend splints which fit over both the upper and lower teeth.
Prescribing medication for bruxism is rare. In fact, teeth grinding can be caused by some medications. However, you are experiencing severe pain due to this affliction, a muscle relaxant may be prescribed to help relax the jaw muscles over night. This is a short-term solution, however, and the root causes of the issue will need to be addressed to fully alleviate the problem.