Tooth grinding and jaw clenching are a common condition that often occurs at night. Bruxism is the official name of this condition, which can often happen to people without being aware of it. It is not uncommon for a person to first find out that they are grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw when they go to their dentist for a routine checkup. In many cases, nightguards are recommended by dentists like those at Lovett Dental Pearland as the ideal solution to this issue.
What is Bruxism?
When a person experiences excessive amounts of jaw clenching and tooth grinding, it is said that they have bruxism. Several factors can cause this condition, but stress, tension, and anxiety tend to be the most common. Many people are not aware that the stress, anxiety, and tension they experience during the day also affect them at night in the form of teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Some other, less common, factors that could cause bruxism include:
- taking certain medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants
- using recreational drugs
- sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea
- drinking six or more cups of beverages that contain caffeine
- drinking alcohol
Signs of Teeth Grinding
Even though teeth grinding and jaw clenching occur primarily while a person is asleep, some clues could alert them that this behavior causes them issues. An individual who is experiencing the following:
- broken teeth or fillings
- facial pain
- jaw pain
- disrupted sleep
- jaw stiffness
- worn-down teeth
If the above symptoms are experiencing, and there is no other valid explanation, it’s important to seek treatment from a dentist as soon as possible. A thorough evaluation can alert the person to possible issues caused by tooth grinding and jaw clenching. In most cases, night guards for bruxism are recommended.
Side Effects of Teeth Grinding and Jaw Clenching
Jaw clenching and teeth grinding don’t simply cause headaches, jaw pain, earaches, and disrupted sleep. This condition can also greatly affect the condition of the person’s teeth.
Eventually, if bruxism is not treated soon enough, the teeth chewing surfaces could experience excessive wear. The teeth’s enamel could be worn off. Some people grind their teeth and clench their jaws with so much force and pressure that their teeth can become broken or cracked.
How Customized Nightguards Can Help
Nightguards are designed to help distribute the pressure that is applied to the teeth as the result of tooth grinding or jaw clenching. They are also effective at reducing the friction that is caused by this repeated movement.
To be most effective, nightguards should be customized for each patient. This customization also helps ensure that the nightguard is as comfortable as possible, making it more likely that the patient will follow their dentist’s recommendations for wearing the device.
Some people experience so much stiffness and pain in the jaw joint and its surrounding muscles that temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can result. Nightguards for TMJ (the temporomandibular joint) can help reduce the pain caused by grinding and clenching, help prevent further damage to the teeth, and help reduce tooth wear.
How to Treat Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding
The first step that a person should take if they suspect that they are clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth is to make an appointment with their dentist and share their concerns. Lovett Dental Pearland is here to assist our patients with dental issues such as bruxism. Our compassionate and professional staff works diligently to help protect your oral health so you can have the best smile possible. Learn more by contacting Lovett Dental Pearland today at 254.275.6542.