If you’re among the 30 to 40 million Americans that grind your teeth at night, you may not even know it. However, this often unidentified problem can have serious health ramifications.
Here, we’re going to talk about the impacts of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Read on to learn how to check for early signs of issues and prevent them from getting worse.
What Causes Bruxism?
Bruxism is simply the medical term for teeth grinding. To understand its effects, it’s important to first understand what causes people to grind their teeth in their sleep. Stress and anxiety are common causes because they create physical tension. Your body releases stress with tight and clenching movements.
Additionally, people who have other sleep disorders have a higher likelihood of developing bruxism. Sleep apnea and insomnia often co-occur.
Short-Term Impacts of Grinding Your Teeth
Those who grind their teeth put about 200 pounds of force on them. This is about six times greater than the force of normal chewing. Because of this strength, it’s clear that there will be at least some short-term impacts of bruxism. They include:
- Regular headaches that are usually dull and begin in the temples
- Earache that doesn’t actually stem back to ear issues
- Tight jaw muscles
- Other jaw clenching symptoms such as jaw-lock or weakness
- Routine sleep interruption and daytime exhaustion
If you begin to notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a dental professional immediately. They can provide you with solutions that alleviate short-term pain and prevent long-term problems.
Long-Term Effects of Bruxism
If you don’t catch teeth grinding early, you may face worse long-term health problems. Some of these issues include:
- Chipped and broken teeth
- Flattened teeth that have been ground down
- Weak enamel that causes sensitive teeth
- Worsening TMJ and sleep apnea
- A jaw that won’t open or close completely
These issues may require costly and invasive treatments like root canals. Luckily, you don’t need to worry about these impacts if you see a dentist as soon as you notice short-term symptoms.
How to Stop Grinding Teeth in Sleep: First Steps
Seeing a dentist is the first step to stopping night-time bruxism. They can first identify whether or not your problem is actually teeth grinding. Once they determine that it is, they can help to find solutions and treatments that work for you. Muscle relaxants that you take before bedtime may sometimes help you. This will help you sleep more soundly and with less physical tension.
More often than not, though, bruxism is treated without medications. Simple stress relief will help many people. Hot baths, good books, meditation, and small work breaks throughout the day can work wonders. Mouth guards that prevent clenching and grinding are also common, affordable, and simple solutions. A dentist can help you choose one that will combat your specific problems.
Start Treating Teeth Grinding Pain Today
Now that you know the effects of teeth grinding, it’s time to start taking steps toward lessening the impacts of bruxism. Our experts are committed to providing top dental care to Lafayette patients.