When you experience pain in your mouth, your first thought may be that you have a cavity, a broken tooth, or gum disease, and of course this may often be the case. But mouth pain can arise from other sources as well, including arthritis, anxiety, and sleep disorders. One such cause is bruxism.
Bruxism is teeth grinding. Oftentimes, it’s grinding teeth in one’s sleep. There are a number of warning signs that you may be doing it.
Possible Indicators of Bruxism
Loose, fractured, and/or painful teeth
Worn tooth enamel
Frequent dull headaches
Predispositions for Bruxism
There are a number of factors that increase the likelihood of grinding teeth at night while you sleep and of teeth grinding in general.
For example, you’re more likely to develop bruxism if members of your family have it.
Those who smoke or drink alcohol are twice as likely develop bruxism as those who don’t.
Researchers have linked teeth grinding to a number of other medical conditions including GERO, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, ADHD, and sleep apnea.
Researchers have also found a link between bruxism and hyperactive, competitive, and aggressive personalities.
Causes of Bruxism
Though teeth grinding is often the result of sleep disorders, anxiety, or stress, sometimes the cause is an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.
Consequences of Bruxism
As you can imagine, the symptoms of teeth grinding listed above can be quite unpleasant. Above and beyond that, though, we should note that untreated bruxism can lead to constant headaches, earaches, dizziness, and sleep impairment to such a degree that routine life tasks become difficult.
Night Guards for Bruxism
Because it’s often the case that the sufferer is grinding teeth in his or her sleep, night guards, or teeth grinding guards, can offer an effective solution.
These lightweight devices, also called occlusal guards, are appliances not unlike orthodontic retainers. They go on over either the upper or lower teeth and are worn nightly to prevent wear and tear on the teeth as they rub together.
A dentist can make you a custom-fit night guard by taking impressions of your teeth during an office visit. Alternatively, some drugstores sell pre-made teeth grinding guards over the counter, but since they haven’t been manufactured to fit perfectly on your individual set of teeth, they may not provide the same high level of results.
Night guards can often help with chronic jaw and facial pain that comes from other causes as well. These causes include TMJ disorders, sinus congestion, and early-stage periodontal disease. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant medications, and antibiotics are sometimes helpful too.
Dental exams and X-rays can determine what’s causing your mouth, jaw, or facial pain and the proper course of treatment to alleviate it. If you live in the Chicago area and are in need of assistance, we invite you to visit us at Loop Perio. We’re here to help you.