2020 marked one of the highest levels of prolonged anxiety, frustration, and stress for many. As stress levels increase, dentists often see more cases of bruxism. But what is bruxism, and how do you know if you have it? Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about bruxism, including what to look for and how to treat it.
Common symptoms of bruxism
Bruxism is a dental condition where you subconsciously gnash, clench, or grind your teeth. Because it happens subconsciously, you may not even be aware that you suffer from bruxism. So what kind of symptoms should you look out for? Some of the most common symptoms of bruxism include:
- Chipped, fractured, or flattened teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity or pain
- Pain or soreness in the neck, face, or jaw
- Consistently tight jaw muscles
- Audible grinding or clenching while sleeping
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Exposed tooth layers caused by worn enamel
You may also find that you are experiencing more frequent headaches or severe facial pain if you suffer from bruxism. And because subconscious clenching and grinding often happens at night, many dental patients who suffer from bruxism also suffer from sleep apnea.
No matter what your symptoms may be, getting treatment as soon as possible is crucial. If bruxism is left untreated, you can cause significant damage to your mouth over time. This is particularly true if you have crowns or dental implants.
What causes bruxism?
Each patient has unique symptoms and underlying causes of bruxism. In most cases, bruxism stems from a combination of psychological, physical, and genetic factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common contributing factors to bruxism include:
- Prolonged periods of stress, anxiety, anger, or frustration
- Frequent use of tobacco, carbonated beverages, and alcohol
- Use of certain antidepressants or medications
- A family history of bruxism
- Mental health or medical disorders such as dementia, ADHD, epilepsy, and GERD
Age can also factor into bruxism, particularly with young children. Though most tend to grow out of it, scheduling a dental appointment early on is important. By addressing bruxism in childhood, you can ensure that the teeth and jawbone develop properly throughout early adulthood.
How do you treat bruxism?
Bruxism treatment depends on each patient’s unique symptoms and causes. Here are some of the most common forms of treatment that you can expect:
Stress reduction techniques: Stress, frustration, anger, and anxiety are all common causes of bruxism. To combat the effects of stress-related bruxism, techniques such as meditation, yoga, or exercise can make a big difference. You could also try journaling, adjusting your sleep pattern, or talking to a counselor to manage your stress levels.
Mouth guards: If you suffer from sleep bruxism, your dentist will create a custom-fitted mouthguard to wear at night. This will help reduce the damage to your teeth and your jawbone. In milder cases of bruxism, you may be able to purchase an over-the-counter mouth guard instead.
Reductive coronoplasty: Bruxism may be caused by teeth that are misshapen or crowded. To address these issues, a reductive coronoplasty adjusts the biting surface of your teeth. Depending on your mouth, this dental procedure may either reshape or re-level them.
Do you think you may be suffering from bruxism? If you have jaw soreness or headaches that you can’t explain, TruBlu Dentistry is here to help. Give us a call to schedule your next appointment! We’ll be happy to examine your mouth, discuss your symptoms, and create the best treatment plan for your needs.