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Bruxism: Grinding Your Teeth May Lead to Issues

You may have heard a term used in dentistry, called bruxism. Although it sounds official, the problem is a somewhat common one.

What is bruxism? What are the causes? Although some people occasionally grind their teeth, the issue of teeth grinding can lead to other problems, such as headaches and a sore jaw as well as worn down teeth and difficulty with eating. Learn more about how we encounter and treat this issue at Pearlee Dental Clinic in Ottawa.

Clenching your teeth during the day, at work or during meetings, can also lead to bruxism; it does not just happen during the night.

The problem is not limited to adults alone. Children often grind their teeth, especially when their baby teeth come in and when their more permanent teeth emerge. Sometimes children have misaligned teeth, which can cause teeth grinding.

What is Bruxism?

Teeth grinding goes by the more scientific name of bruxism. Many times it happens during sleep, so often you may not be aware of the problem. Bruxism wears down teeth. It can be caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.

Bruxism may be caused by sleep apnea or by leading a stressful life. You may not even know you are doing it, until your partner tells you, or you feel pain or headaches.

How Do You Find Out If You Are Grinding Your Teeth?

You may have a sore jaw or a dull headache when you wake up in the morning. A loved one might hear the teeth grinding during the night. The dentist, after a visit, may find worn down teeth or jaw tenderness.

Do You Lead a Stressful Life?

During the daytime hours, stress and anxiety often causes teeth grinding. You may clench your teeth while awake and grind them when you sleep. Caused by anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension, teeth grinding may be a strategy for coping. Some people also use it as a means of concentration.

People with an aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality may have increased risk for bruxism. Additionally, some psychiatric medications may have a side effect of teeth grinding.

If anxiety is causing your grinding of teeth, there are some strategies to help prevent this reaction. Relaxation and meditation may help as well the assistance of a licensed counselor or therapist.

What Are Some Harmful Results of Teeth Grinding?

Chronic teeth grinding may result in the following issues:

  • Loosening, fracturing or loss of teeth
  • Wearing down of teeth
  • Needing to replace teeth with crowns, bridges or dentures after the above

It may also bring on TMD or TJD by affecting your jaw. Ground down teeth may also affect your appearance by changing your face.

Are There Symptoms of Bruxism?

There are some symptoms that you can spot before you make an appointment to see the dentist. These may be the following:

  • Jaw, neck or face pain
  • Teeth grinding that is heard through the night (by your partner)
  • Flattened, fractured or chipped teeth
  • Worn down tooth enamel
  • Pain that may feel like an earache, but does not come from your ear
  • Dull headache that begins at the temples
  • Damage by chewing on the inside of your cheek

When you spot these symptoms, the next step is the dentist or doctor.

What Are Some Dental Treatments For Teeth Grinding?

Mouth guards or splints may be used. A mouth guard will fit over the upper or lower teeth and is made of acrylic or soft materials. The purpose is to keep teeth separated.

Dental corrections may be needed if the teeth are sensitive or are worn down, with chewing affected. The chewing surfaces of the teeth may need to be reshaped by the dentist. Crowns may also be needed in the case of severely damaged teeth.

The nighttime mouth guard is also called an occlusal splint. It fits over the teeth so that you bite on the guard, rather than on your own teeth. This may help your jaw to relax. If you have TMJ, the dentists might recommend wearing the splint 24 hours a day.

Preventing Bruxism

There are certain things that you can do to prevent it, and there may be some effective strategies for prevention: If you find yourself clenching your jaws, become aware of this. Attempt to correct the behavior as it occurs. Keeping teeth apart during daytime hours is important.

You may find different ways to relax before bedtime. Sleeping better will aid in prevention. Daytime methods of relaxation, such as yoga, meditation and techniques that address stress may help. Other before bed activities include:

  • Taking a hot bath
  • Listening to music
  • Massage therapy
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Being active

You should also limit alcohol and caffeine intake and eat a balanced diet. Since sleeping better helps with the issue of teeth grinding during the night, avoiding foods and beverages that keep you awake can be important.

If you have the symptoms of teeth grinding, you may want to make an appointment at our dentist in downtown Ottawa. We can evaluate your issue and make recommendations and a plan for treatment. If you’re not sure it’s bruxism, let the dentist know, so damage can be stopped before it gets worse. An oral exam will determine whether treatment is the right option and what may be necessary.

As a holistic dentist in Ottawa, we treat bruxism as well as other issues that may arise from the grinding of the teeth. If you see this issue in your children, we can also make recommendations and help.

Holistic family dental care in Ottawa is convenient and affordable. We are located at 2948 Baseline Road in downtown Ottawa. Contact us today to book an appointment.