Humans have different ways of expressing emotions, and grinding of the teeth is one of them. While teeth clenching may help to express anger or withstand pain occasionally, doing it frequently may have adverse effects. When patients grind their teeth often, they are said to suffer bruxism. Ignoring bruxism and its symptoms may result in dental trauma. Our experts at Kelly Smile Dentistry have experience treating bruxism and its symptoms.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a dental condition where a patient grinds, clenches, or grates their teeth more than is healthily permitted. Oftentimes, these patients do not know that they are grinding or clenching their teeth. In grinding, they harshly move their teeth against the opposite teeth in different directions. When they clench their teeth, they press their teeth together and hold it in place, straining the muscles of the jaw.
Types of Bruxism
Bruxism may occur when a patient is awake or during their sleep. Awake bruxism is when a patient grinds their teeth or clenches their jaw during the day. The patient is often undergoing some emotional issues at these times, so the bruxism may be unconscious. This means that they may not know that they are clenching their teeth until the emotions have passed. Anxiety, anger, or even pain may cause patients to grind their teeth. Sometimes, stressful conditions or situations that require serious concentration may make patients grind and clench their teeth without knowing.
Sleep bruxism is another form. This is when patients grind, clench, or gnash their teeth together in their sleep. Oftentimes, this grinding may be loud enough for others to hear in a quiet room. Sleep bruxism tends to be much more harmful, as patients may never know it happened until they wake up. It is even more risky as patients tend to clench with more force in their sleep. Since sleep bruxism may be caused by sleep disorders. Nightguards are often prescribed for patients who suffer from them.
Symptoms of Bruxism
For awake bruxism, patients may realize their clenching when they start feeling pain from the muscles exerted. While you may not know if you grind your teeth at night, symptoms such as waking up to headaches and facial pain may be signs. Sometimes you may have your sleep interrupted with no reasonable cause. Other symptoms that may show are aches in the ear, pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and jaw muscles, and fractures and wears on the teeth. Prolonged bruxism may also lead to disorders in the TMJ, jaw pain when eating, loose or severely fractured teeth, and dental trauma that affects the tongue, gums, and jaws.
How Is Bruxism Treated?
Since bruxism is a response to our behavior, there are no known medications for treating it. However, our professionals can help you determine if your symptoms are related to bruxism and treat you accordingly. You may be required to monitor and make some behavioral changes during the day. For sleep bruxism, a night guard is usually prescribed. This is custom-designed by our team to fit your mouth perfectly and help you reduce the impact of sleep bruxism. If you think you may have bruxism, call Kelly Smile Dentistry today at (442) 229-0766 to speak to our professionals.