Some people grind their teeth at night, blissfully unaware they’re doing it. Others do it in broad daylight as a response to conflict and stress.
Regardless of the time of day, teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, does a number on your oral and overall health. At Gaiduchik Orthodontics in Carmichael, California, we see the damage teeth gnashing causes daily, so we’re on a mission to help our patients recognize the signs and do something about bruxism.
Any type of involuntary teeth grinding or clenching qualifies as bruxism. While you’re awake, you may clench or grind your teeth repeatedly without being aware of it.
Sleep bruxism, as its name suggests, occurs while you slumber. The muscles you use to chew move involuntarily and cause your teeth to grind against one another with great force.
Both types of bruxism can be stealthy. Awake bruxism is the more common of the two, but it can still affect you unawares. Sleep bruxism, considered a sleep disorder, is trickier to detect, but telltale signs still give it away, and we highlight those symptoms in the next section.
Since bruxism can wreck your dental health and wreak havoc on your overall health, it’s good to know the symptoms and the long-term problems teeth grinding causes.
Constant teeth grinding wears down your teeth and can damage them permanently. We see patients with flattened molars, thin or nonexistent enamel, cracks, chips, fractures, and loose teeth.
It’s not hard to imagine how bruxism results in pain. The repeated stress and pressure on your muscles and joints can cause pain in your face, jaws, neck, and ears.
Bruxism can lead to jaw disorders that involve your temporomandibular (TMJ) joint, the hinge that enables your jaw to open and close. Overworked, inflamed, and spasming muscles might push or pull your jaw out of alignment and cause TMJ syndrome, which may result in radiating pain in your neck and shoulders. It may also cause chewing and swallowing challenges.
Teeth grinders often complain of headaches, especially in the morning. The prolonged pressure causes tension to build up, triggering a tension headache or migraine attack.
Grinding your teeth moves them little by little until they become loose in their sockets. Once the bond between your teeth and gums slackens, your gums pull away and recede, allowing bacteria to take hold and develop an infection and putting your teeth at risk of falling out.
Bruxism is a sleep disorder that can mess with your circadian rhythm and leave you feeling exhausted in the morning, even if you don’t remember waking up in the middle of the night.
But bruxism also tends to go hand in hand with another common sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea. Although researchers haven’t nailed down the nature of the relationship, the correlation is unmistakable: a high percentage of people have both conditions.
Bruxism, like snoring, is loud and obnoxious to those nearby. If you have sleep bruxism, your bed partner may lose sleep, causing tension in your relationship. If you have awake bruxism, coworkers and friends may grow tired of the grinding sounds and become annoyed with you or avoid you.
If we’ve convinced you that bruxism harms your health, you probably want to know how to halt the damage. While some people who grind their teeth need no treatment, others need immediate intervention to save their health.
Dr. Andrey Gaiduchik evaluates your symptoms and your teeth to determine the best treatment, which may include:
Call or click to schedule an appointment to find out which treatment or combination matches your bruxism type.