I Think You May Have Bruxism
Bruxism is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth, and it can occur when you are awake or when you are sleeping. Regardless of whether you clench your teeth during waking hours or while you are asleep, the act of grinding (sliding your teeth back and forth over each other) or clenching (holding your top and bottom teeth together tightly) your teeth is an unconscious one.
Of course, sleep related bruxism is much harder for people to deal with because they have no way of being aware of what they are doing, which means there is nothing they can do to stop it. Some people can clench or grind their teeth on occasion and never feel any pain. For most people, however, clenching and grinding is a habit that once started, it is nearly impossible to stop. The result is eventually a great deal of tooth and/or jaw pain, and it sometimes results in damage to teeth.
What Causes Bruxism?
Unfortunately, the conclusive answer to this question is not known. Scientists believe, however, that the stresses of daily life play a huge role in the development of this condition. There are a variety of factors that contribute to determining how severe each persons symptoms will be should they develop bruxism.
How much stress you are under
Ability to relax
If your teeth are misaligned
How long and how tightly you clench or grind your teeth
When you clench or grind your teeth, it puts pressure on the tissues and muscles in your jaw. It also causes your teeth to wear down over time, which can lead to the erosion of enamel or serious tooth damage. It can also cause cracks to develop in your teeth, which can mean getting a root canal and/or a crown to repair them properly.
If grinding and clenching activities go untreated for a long enough period of time, it can eventually lead to the development of temporomandibular joint problems, or TMJ.
The symptoms of bruxism include the following:
Stress or tension
Jaw pain or soreness
How Bruxism is Treated
Bruxism needs to be treated so that you can avoid doing any permanent damage to your teeth and reduce the amount of pain being experienced. One of the most popular treatments for this condition is to use mouth guards, or night guards, when you are sleeping.
Night guards can be purchased at drug stores for a relatively nominal cost, and they should be worn every night to prevent wear and damage to your teeth. If you find that you have difficulty getting an over the counter brand to work for you, talk to your dentist about having a night guard specially made. Custom fit night guards do cost considerably more, but it is certainly worth the money in the long run if it protects your teeth from damage.