Teeth Grinding and Your Dental Health

During your bi-annual dental exam, your dentist may note you are showing signs of teeth grinding, otherwise known as bruxism. Bruxism is the act of clenching, grinding, or gnashing of teeth. A lot of people with bruxism don’t realize they have it, because they grind their teeth while sleeping. Others might do it throughout the day as a stress response.

Consequences of Teeth Grinding
If you suffer from bruxism, you’re not alone. 1 in 10 people grind their teeth in their sleep! It’s important to address bruxism because it can lead to negative side effects.
Bruxism can cause physical symptoms, such as headaches, a sore jaw, TMJ syndrome, and even tooth fractures. Bruxism can occur unconsciously, while sleeping, making it even harder to control.

Treatments for Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding almost always has an underlying cause, whether its stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, certain medications, or something else. Dentists and doctors will want to undercover the underlying condition which is resulting in bruxism to cure teeth grinding.
However, there are treatment plans that can be followed in the meantime to stop teeth grinding in their tracks. These treatment plans include:

  • Nightguards, a device that looks like a retainer or mouthguard, for protecting the teeth from the adverse effects of grinding at night.
  • Certain muscle relaxers can inhibit teeth grinding. A medical professional may also look at your current medications. Some medications can cause bruxism.
  • Behavioral therapy, in the case that bruxism is caused by emotional triggers, can help patients identify the oncoming trigger and learn new coping mechanisms.
  • Botox injections to the jaw muscle can also be used. Though this method isn’t FDA approved, it has been administered to bruxism patients since the 1990s and adverse reactions are very few.

Teeth grinding is emotionally and physically uncomfortable. Once you’ve been diagnosed, your dentist should be able to map out a treatment plan for you. Depending on the underlying cause of your grinding the treatment plan will look different from person to person.