“Bruxism” is the technical term for grinding your teeth. Although some people will grind their teeth during the day, for the average person, bruxism occurs during our sleep at night.
Almost everyone experiences bruxism at some point during their lives. Stress, diet, allergic reactions, and trauma can all trigger bruxism, but for some people, it becomes a chronic habit that can lead to multiple problems for the teeth and mouth.
Problems Associated with Bruxism
1. Wear on the teeth – chronic grinding of the teeth wears them down.
2. Cracked teeth – when enough pressure is exerted through bruxism, it can lead to a cracked tooth.
3. Tooth loss – over time, cracked and broken teeth can lead to tooth loss.
4. Receding gums – bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession.
5. Sore jaw, neck pain, and/or headaches – clenching the muscles of the mouth can lead to sore muscles in the jaw or neck, sometimes accompanied by headaches.
6. Temporomandibular joint disorder – commonly known as TMJ syndrome, this joint disorder affects the point where the mandible meets the skull. As TMJ progresses, it can lead to pain and impairment in the normal functioning of the jaw.
One of the simplest ways to protect the teeth and mouth from bruxism is through a mouth or night guard. A good night guard, which is made from a mold of the bruxism patient's teeth, minimizes the damage that grinding the teeth causes. A night guard is not necessarily a final solution to bruxism, but getting a night guard is a good place to start if you suspect you might be suffering from bruxism.
Other Treatments for Bruxism
In addition to night guards, some people have tried biofeedback machines and dietary supplements with varying degrees of success, as well as the popular cosmetic injection Botox. In the context of bruxism, Botox temporarily weakens the muscles involved in grinding the teeth.
In sum, if you suspect you might be suffering from bruxism, turn to our dentist for help getting a night guard as a first step before you try other, more expensive treatments. A night guard can simply prevent many problems caused by bruxism and the need for more extensive treatments such as dental crown and bridge, restorations, and in some cases even dental implants.