If you have been grinding your teeth at night, you’re probably familiar with the pain it can cause. While pain in your upper or lower jaw shortly after waking is one common sign of teeth grinding (also called bruxism), other times pain doesn’t occur. This is why it’s important to schedule regular dental exams so your dentist can quickly diagnose bruxism and help you stop grinding your teeth while sleeping.
So, how do you prevent teeth grinding, and how can you stop doing it at night? Read on to learn more about this common dental condition that can affect your overall health and well-being.
Why is Grinding Your Teeth Bad for You?
Before diving into bruxism prevention and treatment, you should first understand why grinding and clenching your teeth can be bad for your health. If you don’t have pain or other symptoms, you may think that clenching your teeth isn’t causing you any harm. But dentists know that if you don’t move forward with preventative care and treatment for bruxism, it can severely affect not just your oral health, but the health of your entire body. Here are just some ways that teeth grinding can be destructive to your health:
- Grinding and clenching your teeth can wear down tooth enamel. Enamel gives your teeth a protective outer coating. When it wears down from bruxism, your teeth will not only become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, but also have an increased risk for tooth decay.
- Long-term teeth grinding can cause fractured teeth and tooth loss. Consistent, uneven stress on teeth from bruxism can cause your teeth to fracture or even become dislodged. This can be very painful, plus make chewing, speaking, and other daily habits difficult.
- You could develop TMD. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to your skull in order to allow your jaw to move. When you grind your teeth, the hinge and muscles surrounding your TMJ become very tight. This can cause chronic pain in your jaw, debilitating headaches, and other painful symptoms. Sometimes, you will even need to get surgery to help treat TMJ issues.
- Your gums can recede. If you grind your teeth or clench them while you sleep, you will be putting a lot of force against not only your teeth, but your gums. This can eventually cause your gums to recede. Not only can this be a painful condition, but “gum pockets” can form and lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in these gaps which can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss.
- Your teeth can shorten. If you take a look at a healthy smile, you will see that the top row of teeth vary in length. But if you are suffering from teeth grinding at night, you may notice that your teeth are chiseling down to the same length. This can be bad for your bite and cause your upper and lower teeth to come together unevenly. Not only can this cause tooth pain, headaches, and other problems, a shortened smile can make you look much older than you actually are.
While teeth grinding can be a harmful condition over time, the good news is that these things can often be prevented with proper care and bruxism treatment.
How Can I Stop Grinding My Teeth at Night?
There is a common link between stress and bruxism, so practicing stress-reducing techniques can sometimes help alleviate the teeth grinding and clenching motions at night. There are several ways that you can reduce or even eliminate stress and ease bruxism symptoms including the following:
- Create a relaxing environment before going to bed. When you maintain a relaxing, regular bedtime routine, it can put your mind at peace and relax your facial muscles. One hour before bedtime, turn off your phone, computer, and TV, light some candles, play relaxing music, and practice deep breathing exercises. All of these things may help promote restful, calm sleep and stop teeth grinding.
- Try jaw exercises. Many physical therapists and chiropractors recommend doing daily jaw exercises to stretch and relax your muscles. Doing recommended exercises a few times a day can work to alleviate bruxism symptoms and help you stop grinding your teeth.
Dental Treatments for Teeth Grinding
It’s important to not only reduce stress, but to contact your dentist for expert help. In addition to the following treatments, your dentist can also repair any damage to your teeth caused by bruxism:
- Dental botox injections. Dental botox can help with teeth grinding and clenching issues by relaxing your jaw muscles. After dental botox injections, your facial motions beneath the injection sites will stop temporarily. This effect can be very useful for people who want to stop grinding their teeth.
- Get a custom mouth guard for teeth grinding. A custom mouth guard is a popular solution for people who want to alleviate symptoms from teeth grinding. While stress is often a cause for bruxism, there are a plethora of other issues that can cause it. But whatever the reason for your symptoms, a mouth guard can help promote restful sleep, and keep your teeth from grinding together at night. Your dentist will develop a custom mouth guard by taking impressions of your teeth so it fits perfectly. Mouth guards can effectively protect your smile and last for years if taken care of.
Teeth Grinding Symptoms
If you notice any of the following symptoms of teeth grinding and clenching, it’s important to contact your dentist right away so they can diagnose and treat your dental issue before it gets worse:
- Persistent tooth pain
- Tension headaches when you wake up in the morning
- Chronic aching jaws
- Unexplained earaches
- Worn down teeth
- Flat, nubbed, dull teeth
- Damage on the inside of your cheeks
- Indentations on your tongue
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
Teeth Grinding Treatment in Columbus Ohio
Bruxism can be managed with proper dental care. If you are suffering from teeth grinding at night, our skilled dentists at Capstone Dental in Clintonville are experienced in helpful treatments like dental botox, custom mouth guards, and more. Contact us today to schedule an exam so we can help you manage bruxism and alleviate your symptoms.