The Crux of Bruxism
Bruxism is the unconscious grinding and clenching of teeth. This may occur for any number of reasons, including stress, lack of sleep, a misaligned bite, or mere habit. Some people grind and clench their teeth during the day, but bruxism most commonly occurs during sleep. While many patients believe the unconscious grinding is a relatively harmless, if irritating, habit, the excessive force and continual wear can lead to chips, cracks, and even strain that affects the TMJ. That’s why Dr. Merrill A. Grant screens for indicators of bruxism. Common symptoms of bruxism include:
- Toothaches, especially upon waking, or increased dental sensitivity
- Sore jaw or diminished function
- Earache or hearing loss
- Loud grinding or clenching during sleep
- Soft tissue damage from chewing or compressing tissue
- Worn tooth enamel that may expose the underlying dentin
- Increased instances of insomnia, eating disorders, and depression, which have been linked to bruxism through research
There are a number of risk factors that increase the probability a patient will suffer from bruxism. Women are twice as likely to experience bruxism. Additionally, people who experience high levels of stress and those who bite objects like fingernails, pencils, lips, and cheeks are at a higher risk for developing the condition.
Regardless of the cause, Dr. Merrill A. Grant and his Satellite Beach, FL dental team can help patients protect their teeth from damage. In most cases, we recommend patients wear a nightguard to protect their teeth during sleep. We custom craft every nightguard to fit patients’ smiles comfortably, placing a barrier between teeth during sleep and preventing potential dental damage. There are a variety of styles available, and we’ll work with each patient to find the type of nightguard that works for them. Patients who strain their TMJ due to overuse will need to undergo TMD therapy, including physical therapy, massage, or alternating hot or cold compresses. Additionally, patients who suffer from stress or habit-related bruxism may benefit from stress relief or behavioral modification. We may recommend patients seek outside help or guidance from skilled medical doctors.
If you experience any of the common side effects of teeth grinding, contact our office right away so we can begin treatment to prevent discomfort and damage associated with teeth grinding and clenching.