Bruxism is the medical term for “involuntarily or habitual grinding of the teeth”. Also included is gnashing, more commonly known as clenching of the jaw. Your Kalamazoo dentist is well versed in spotting the signs of bruxism. It is estimated that nearly 25% of the population deals with the issue of bruxism. If untreated, can cause complications and damage to your teeth. So how do you know if you have bruxism? What can you do to prevent this? Below we’ll highlight the symptoms, causes and some prevention tips for you.
How do I know if I have bruxism?
While bruxism can occur when awake, for most people deterioration occurs during sleep. This makes it more difficult to spot because you are… sleeping! Also, whether awake or asleep bruxism is a pretty subconscious act. Here are a few signs to look for if you believe bruxism may be an issue:
- Sensitive teeth and gums
- Grinding or clicking sound in jaw (many times your partner will hear this while you are sleeping)
- Teeth changing over time – including flattened, chipped, loose, fractured and worn enamel
- Jaw pain
- Indentions on the tongue
Another simple test that many people do is running their tongue along the bottom of their top teeth. If bruxism has progressed many people notice a slant from one side to the other. If you feel you have symptoms from above it is best to visit your Kalamazoo dentist so they can give an accurate diagnosis. Children may have bruxism too so if you think this may be an issue, be sure to mention during your child’s next dental exam.
Causes of Bruxism
There isn’t one specific answer as to what causes bruxism. Both physical and psychological issues are believed to play a role. Physical causes such as teething, illness (Parkinson’s and Huntington’s), medications, stomach acid reflux, and misalignment of teeth and/or jaw can all result in involuntary grinding of the teeth. Many clinical studies have supported that anxiety and stress can trigger teeth grinding and gnashing. Some of these include; suppressed anger, sleeping disorders and tension. Additional risk factors include:
- Age – common in children
- Stimulating substances – tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, illegal drugs such as methamphetamines
- Personality type – aggressive or hyperactive
How do I stop grinding my teeth?
Since the causes of bruxism can be so vast there are many avenues one can take to start prevention. The very first step should be making an appointment with your dentist. Once you have made the appointment begin to explore other methods. If you believe stress is a large factor look into what the stressor is. Stress counseling, exercise programs and behavior therapy could be incredibly beneficial to your overall well-being. Avoid stimulating substances, especially at night. Ask your partner if they hear any grinding or clicking noises and snoring at night. There is the possibility a sleeping disorder is the source of your bruxism.
Once you go to your dental exam your doctor will begin to check for any dental abnormalities and tenderness of the jaw. If your doctor seems to believe the bruxism is caused by misalignment they will outline ways in which they can fix this; oral surgery, braces, etc. If your dentist believes it is a factor outside of this, many times they will recommend a splint or mouth guard. While this may not stop the bruxism from taking place, it can protect the wear on your teeth. It is crucial to take the recommended steps given by your dentist to prevent complications down the line.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to conquer bruxism. Trial and error is par for the course so try not to get frustrated. The most important thing for you is to work with your dentist on a method that is comfortable to you so you will actually do it. Contact the Lindenwoods dental team to find the best solution for you.