For some people, clenching or grinding their teeth is a way of showing emotions, and they react with it during stressful situations, even without noticing. But, it becomes a problem when we do it a lot involuntarily. At this point, you may be said to have bruxism, with symptoms such as pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) among other dental problems. Patients who also grind their teeth in their sleep also suffer bruxism and night guards are often used to treat them. Our professionals at Lincoln Center Smiles have repeated success in treating bruxism in our patients.
What Is Bruxism?
Simply put, bruxism is a medical condition where a patient grinds their teeth when they are not chewing. It is not the occasional grinding to show emotion, but rather a frequent grinding or clenching of the teeth. Some patients clench or grind when they are awake, while most do this during their sleep. Oftentimes, patients who suffer bruxism do not realize that they clench and grind their teeth unconsciously until they start feeling the symptoms.
Types of Bruxism
Bruxism in patients occurs when they are awake or when they sleep. Some patients may suffer from both types. Awake bruxism is when patients clench and grind their teeth during the day. Sometimes, it is linked to emotional responses like anger or anxiety, or it could be an unconscious response to stress. Some patients who suffer awake bruxism can prevent it and stop its effects by being more conscious of their actions. Otherwise, our professionals may recommend other lasting solutions like stress management, or a change in dental habits to treat awake bruxism.
Sleep bruxism happens when patients grind their teeth in their sleep. This may often be more harmful as patients are usually unaware of this situation. It even poses more threat to the dental health of a patient because they do not realize how strongly they clench their teeth. They often wake up to pain in the temporomandibular joint, or around their faces with throbbing headaches.
Symptoms and Effects of Bruxism
Patients with bruxism may see symptoms such as increased tooth pain or sensitivity, chips or fractures on the teeth, worn enamel, and pain in the face, neck, or jaw. Sometimes, patients may feel tightness or locks in the TMJ. Headaches and earaches after a long night of rest are also signs that you may have put pressure on your teeth and jaw during your sleep. When left ignored, bruxism may result in aesthetic changes, altering your facial profile. While your enamel will wear out, you may suffer tooth fracture, and harm your TMJ and neck muscles.
Treatments For Bruxism
Our professionals will help you diagnose your bruxism through physical examination and a complete assessment of your symptoms. For sleep bruxism, we may need to conduct a sleep study. While there are no quick fixes to bruxism, our professionals will give you a custom fitted night guard. With this night guard, your teeth are protected during your sleep, and your TMJs are sheltered from the force your bruxism brings.
Other exercises and behavior changes will be prescribed to help reduce the frequency as much as possible. If you have teeth grinding moments, or have symptoms that you think may be resulting from bruxism, do not hesitate to speak to our professionals at Lincoln Center Smiles today by calling us at (503) 598-0898.