Have you been waking up with a sore jaw or sore teeth? Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is an unconscious neuromuscular activity. Without realizing it, you may be tightly clenching your jaw during the day, or more commonly, grinding your teeth during sleep. Fortunately, you are not alone. Bruxism is very common with more than 3 million cases every year.
Three Reasons Why You Grind Your Teeth
The most common reason for teeth grinding is stress. 70% of bruxism cases are a result of stress or anxiety. The second reason could be from sleep apnea. When the airway becomes constricted in sleep apnea, your chewing muscles activate to help reopen the airway. Finally, consuming large amounts of alcohol, caffeine, and smoking tobacco have all been linked to developing bruxism.
Bruxism is Literally a Pain in the Neck
Bruxism has a range of symptoms. If you feel an aching jaw, or some minor tooth sensitivity, you most likely have a moderate case of bruxism. However, if you’ve found that you have loose or chipped teeth that you can’t explain, or are experiencing regular pain in your neck, face or even ears when you wake up, you may have a more serious case of bruxism. Not getting this addressed early on can lead to damage of your crowns and fillings. Are you hearing a clicking or popping noise when you yawn? Bruxism can lead to TMJ (temporomandibular jaw disorder), which occurs when the jaw joint slowly gets pushed out of the correct position caused by grinding.
Take a Crack at these Solutions
In most cases, bruxism can be successfully treated. If you are experiencing occasional teeth grinding, incorporate more stress and anxiety reducing activities. Exercise, meditation, and a regular bedtime routine will help calm the body before sleep. To prevent extreme damage from happening, we often recommend a mouth guard. These are usually placed over the upper or lower set of teeth to prevent them from coming in contact with each other.
Your teeth and mouth can tell us a lot about your overall health, just like signs of bruxism may be the cause of stress. If you think you may be experiencing regular teeth grinding, call and set up an appointment before you ruin your smile.