toothacheDental bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a common dental problem that results from stress, misaligned teeth, and/or an adverse reaction to certain antidepressant medications. Bruxism is most common in women between 20 and 40 years of age, but it also affects a significant number of adult men and children. Nearly a third of parents report teeth grinding in their children, though bruxism in kids typically ceases by age 13, or when all adult teeth are present and accounted for.

And did you know that grinding isn’t the only characteristic of bruxism? Jaw clenching also qualifies. Not surprisingly, nighttime teeth grinders are often daytime teeth clenchers, especially during stressful workdays.

Bruxism can have serious consequences including:

  • Enamel damage that leads to sensitive teeth
  • Jaw disorders
  • Headaches
  • Broken dental fillings
  • Cracked and damaged teeth
  • Hearing loss
  • Need for partial dentures

Teeth grinding generally happens while we sleep, which is why many people don’t know that they are “bruxers” until diagnosed by a dentist (or told by a sleeping partner who is kept awake by the sound of grinding teeth). Are there other ways to detect bruxism? Yes.

Some sneaky signs that you may be grinding your teeth include:

  • Unexplained facial pain
  • Morning headaches
  • Seemingly random damaged teeth and broken fillings
  • A dull ache in the jaw or jaw swelling
  • Aching gums

How is Bruxism Treated?

Treatment for chronic teeth grinders varies based on the cause of the disorder. For bruxism secondary to stress, we typically recommend a temporary night guard and stress management. Sometimes all it takes is a change in diet and sleep/exercise habits to calm the stress response, while others should seek professional help to discover the source of their anxiety.

For bruxism that stems from misaligned teeth or jaw disorders, we also recommend a night guard in addition to orthodontic work to correct the misalignment.

If medication is causing the bothersome teeth grinding, we will likely fit the patient for a night guard and suggest that they talk to their prescribing physician about new medication or a different dosage.

If you suspect that you are grinding your teeth, it’s important that you see a dentist as soon as possible to pinpoint the cause, relieve the pain and fix any oral damage that the grinding has caused. Call or contact Vacendak Dentistry’s Chesapeake, Virginia location to set up an appointment and take advantage of our commitment to compassionate care. 757.609-3510. 

image courtesy of artur84/