Do you BRUX? During the day or at night? No, bruxism isn’t a new type of meditation or exercise, but, rather, the technical name for grinding teeth. You may unconsciously clench your teeth together during the day, or clench or grind them at night (sleep bruxism). If you grind your teeth at night, it is considered a sleep-related movement disorder and may accompany other sleep disorders such as snoring.
Sometimes grinding your teeth is not a major problem and needs no treatment, but at times it can be so severe as to lead to tooth damage, disorders of the jaw and headaches. So in the event you brux at night, it is important to know what to look for and what to discuss with your dentist.
The causes of grinding teeth are not completely known, but some scientists have associated bruxism with anxiety or stress, an extremely competitive personality, a side effect of some medications, a poor alignment of the jaws (malocclusion), a focusing habit and more.
Here are a few signs that indicate you might be grinding your teeth:
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Jaw or face pain or soreness
- Chipped or fractured teeth
- Tired or tight jaw muscles
- Pain that feels like an earache but you have no ear problems
- Dull headache originating in the temples
- Chewing marks on the inside of your cheek
You should see your dentist right away if any of the above symptoms persist or if your jaw feels as if it is locked. If grinding occurs at night, a sleep study might be ordered to determine regularity and frequency to decide on the proper treatment. Most treatments are based upon the severity of the bruxism, and can include:
- Splints or mouth guards: Designed to keep your teeth separated these appliances are made of a variety of materials to fit over your upper or lower teeth.
- Therapies: Based upon your situation, you may benefit from stress management, behavior modification, or biofeedback.
- Medication: Your dentist may recommend a mild muscle relaxant for a short period of time to help ease the symptoms of bruxism.
The important thing to remember? Many people grind their teeth with no long-term or adverse effects. But for those who do need help, it is available. There is more to your oral health than brushing, flossing and using your TUNG Brush and Gel and being aware of the symptoms of conditions such as bruxism is the best way to be proactive and see your dentist for the best care before problems get worse.