If you routinely clench your teeth or grind your teeth at night, you may suffer from a condition called bruxism. If you do, you’re not alone. Teeth grinding is very common in people throughout the US. In fact, it is estimated that between 30 and 40 million people in our country suffer from bruxism. Some people may grind their teeth at night, while others may clench or grind their teeth when they’re under stress. Whichever category you fall into, one thing is certain: it’s important to stop grinding your teeth. If you don’t, you may end up with a variety of other problems. Here are some of the issues that can be caused by bruxism:
- You can damage your teeth. Putting excess pressure on your teeth can result in small cracks forming or dental fillings breaking.
- You can make your teeth more sensitive. Grinding your teeth together can wear away the enamel on your teeth, and that can lead to increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks.
- You can develop headaches. This is especially true of people who grind their teeth at night, many of whom regularly wake up with a headache.
- You can experience general facial pain. People who grind their teeth are putting excessive strain on their facial muscles, and that can lead to soreness and tenderness in the face.
- You can develop jaw problems – namely, temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD causes pain in the jaw, particularly when you open and close your mouth. The pain endured by TMD sufferers can be significant, and often interferes with their quality of life overall.
Many people suffer from bruxism and don’t even realize it. If you’re not sure whether or not you routinely clench or grind your teeth, here are a few indications that you might:
- You experience headaches in the morning.
- Family members hear you grinding your teeth at night (often the grinding is loud enough to disrupt the sleep of other people).
- Your jaw muscles are painful when you open or close your mouth. This discomfort is usually more painful in the morning.
- Your teeth and gums are damaged. This damage can include cracked teeth, broken fillings, and/or injured gums.
- You are experiencing unexplained facial pain.
- You routinely contract your jaw muscles.
- You have swelling in one or both sides of your lower jaw.
Fortunately, there are several effective treatment methods for bruxism. If you believe that you suffer from this condition, talk to your dentist to find out more about how to stop grinding your teeth.