Clenching or grinding your teeth at night is a condition called bruxism, and it usually requires nightly use of a protective mouthguard to preserve your teeth. But how do you know if you have bruxism? After all, it is a condition that occurs while you’re sleeping. Unless someone points out that you click and grind your teeth, you might not know.
Here are some signs that may point to bruxism.
Chipped or Fractured Teeth
Teeth grinding can be detrimental to your oral health. One of the biggest concerns is that the constant pressure can wear down or flatten your teeth and even lead to chips and fractures. This kind of damage may leave your teeth more vulnerable to decay.
There are all kinds of reasons that people can have sensitive teeth, and one of them is bruxism. Because teeth grinding can strip away the protective outer layer of enamel, affected individuals can experience pain when drinking or eating something hot, cold, or sweet. Sensitive teeth should never be ignored and absolutely warrant a visit to your dentist.
If you frequently wake up with a headache, it may be due to the associated tension in your face that comes from nightly teeth grinding. Because the muscles in your face don’t get a chance to relax while you sleep, pressure and tautness around your head can build and lead to headaches.
Unexplained Ear Aches
For the same types of reasons that bruxism can result in headaches, bruxism can also lead to experiencing pain in the ears.
Temporomandibular joint disorder is a medical condition characterized by soreness and inflammation of the jaw joint or muscles in this area. Difficulty chewing food or pain that inhibits the ability to open the mouth are also common with TMD. Bruxism frequently acts as a catalyst for TMD.
What Causes Bruxism?
While the exact causes behind bruxism are unclear, medical experts believe both physical and psychological factors may contribute to the condition. Some commonly believed influences include:
- Stress or anxiety
- Sleep apnea
- Malocclusion; a misalignment between upper and lower teeth
- Acid reflux
- Certain medications, particularly those used to treat depression
If you suspect you are suffering from bruxism, request an appointment with our general dentists to find out about you mouthguard options.