Have you noticed you frequently wake up with a headache or an aching jaw? You might possibly have a condition called bruxism, where you clench and grind your teeth.
What is Bruxism?
Some people have awake bruxism, where they will subconsciously clench and grind their teeth, and especially during times of stress. However, bruxism is frequently a nocturnal habit which is why people are often unaware they have this condition. It can also be associated with another sleep disorder called sleep apnea, where people will often snore and pause for breath while asleep, partially awakening with a loud snort or gasp. Unfortunately, bruxism can cause significant damage to your teeth and gums, and to your jaw joints, so it is essential to get a proper diagnosis from a dentist in Oshawa.
Mild cases of bruxism might not require any treatment, but some people will clench and grind so severely that they begin to wear down their teeth. The stress on the jaw joints can cause jaw tenderness, and the pain might radiate out towards the temples, causing frequent headaches that could even last all day.
What Can Cause Bruxism?
It’s not really known why some people clench and grind their teeth, but often stress or anxiety can be a factor. Age is another factor because bruxism is common in young children, but they usually outgrow this problem. If other members of your family have bruxism, there is an increased risk that you might too because it can run in families. Other disorders associated with bruxism include gastro-esophageal reflux disorder or GERD, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and night terrors.
Potential symptoms of teeth clenching, and grinding include:
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s worth seeing our dentist in Whitby. An appointment here at Margolian Dentistry will soon determine if you have bruxism and if so, the most appropriate treatment for the problem. Sometimes treatment might not be necessary, but other times a custom-made mouthguard can be extremely useful in preventing further damage to your teeth.
If required, we can supply a custom night guard or night splint in Ajax which is a device made to fit precisely over your teeth, usually your upper teeth. The night guard is made from acrylic material, preventing your upper and lower teeth from contacting so you can no longer clench and grind. If stress is a possible factor, it’s worth trying to reduce your stress levels perhaps by taking up exercise or by making a conscious effort to spend some time relaxing before you go to bed each night.
Other things that can help include cutting back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, and some people find it useful to avoid alcohol because this can intensify grinding. During the day, try to consciously relax your jaw muscles, placing the tip of your tongue between your teeth which will help to train yourself not to clench and grind. If facial pain is a problem, try holding a warm washcloth against your cheek to help relax your jaw muscles at night.