Bruxism is a term that denotes chronic teeth grinding, both during waking hours and while sleeping. Severe cases can damage your teeth and jaws, but milder instances generally don’t need any treatment. Bruxism is linked to temporomandibular joint disorder (or TMJ disorder), a painful condition where the jaw joint becomes misaligned. Bruxism is a painful, yet treatable condition.
Risk Factors for Bruxism
Bruxism has multiple risk factors. Night terrors, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and other medical and medical health conditions are linked to bruxism. Anger, anxiety, stress, strong emotions, and deep concentration can also get people in the habit of clenching their teeth. Sleep bruxism is also linked to genetics.
To catch this condition early, come in for biannual dental appointments so we can examine your teeth and jaw for any problems. Most patients with bruxism don’t even know they have it until they start experiencing pain.
Bruxism and TMJ
Just because someone grinds their teeth doesn’t mean they’ll get TMJ. However, bruxism can lead to TMJ or make an existing case even worse. If you have a severe case of bruxism, it can damage dental restorations, gradually reposition your teeth and misalign your bite. A misaligned bite often results in the jaw muscles moving the TMJ out of position to realign the jaw, causing a TMJ disorder.
TMJ and bruxism resemble each other in the symptoms they cause. Contact us if you experience any of the following:
||Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
||Pain and sensitivity in your face, neck, jaws, or near the ears
Wearing a night mouthguard is one of the most common treatment methods for bruxism. These mouthguards fit over your teeth so they don’t grind or strain your jaw muscles. To use your mouthguard, place it in boiling water, let it cool for a few seconds, then gently bite into it so it can shape your teeth.
You can buy a mouthguard at a pharmacy with no need for a prescription, but we can also prescribe them. We craft them in a laboratory after making an impression of your teeth. These specially-made mouthguards are more expensive than their over-the-counter counterparts, but they fit better and feel more comfortable.
Other Methods of Treating Bruxism
If wearing a mouthguard is uncomfortable, we have alternatives. If you’re grinding your teeth because they’re misaligned, we can straighten them with orthodontic appliances like braces.
Managing your stress levels will also go a long way in alleviating bruxism. Brian K. Rounds, DDS might give you options for you to use at home to reduce stress and stop grinding your teeth. You should also consider professional therapy if you have high levels of stress.
Brian K. Rounds, DDS may also suggest avoiding stimulants like caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol. Antidepressants and other medications can also lead to bruxism, so he will ask you what medications you’re using so he can recommend alternatives if you need them. Lastly, keep in mind that bruxism is treatable, and we’re in your corner to help you do just that.
For more information, please contact our office at (360) 764-5236.