That’s actually a tough question for many people to answer. While the symptoms can be pronounced and painful, the actual grinding often takes place while the sufferer is asleep. The result is a host of maladies that may develop into some serious conditions without a person being aware of it. So in this post, we’ll detail the causes, signs, and – most importantly – the solutions to this common and sometimes painful problem dentists call Bruxism.
What Exactly Is Bruxism?
The National Institutes of Health define the condition as: “when you clench (tightly hold your top and bottom teeth together) or grind (slide your teeth back and forth over each other) your teeth.”
Why Is It an Issue?
Many scientists agree that most people grind their teeth to some extent because it is the activation of the chewing reflex. During sleep, however, the brain may be in REM as reflex actions are occurring nonetheless.
This unconscious grinding and/or clenching begins to cause problems when it affects a person’s teeth, jaw, ears, or sleep. The following list details the most common symptoms:
- People begin experiencing constant headaches, sore jaws, or abnormally sensitive teeth.
- If a sufferer doesn’t catch the condition in time, he could develop tooth fractures or loosened teeth.
- Chronic grinding left untreated may wear their teeth down to stumps.
- In extreme cases, it could cause Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ). TMJ affects the jaw and could result in expensive treatments and surgeries.
What Are the Causes?
This is the trouble: no one is 100% sure. An increase in anxiety is the most common reason according to dentists and scientists. Yet it’s not a universally accepted answer. Many think poor teeth symmetry, digestive problems, or a disturbed sleep pattern can trigger it, too.
At Dr. Rittenberg & Associates, we know how to identify the early signs of Bruxism and develop treatment plans based on the lifestyles of our individual patients. Sometimes, we recommend a more dedicated focus on stress relief and a good night’s sleep. Other times, we recommend a customized mouthguard to wear at night. If the grinding has already caused damage, we can replace individual teeth with crowns or bridges. Our goal is to prevent the problem from developing into a chronic condition.