Do you or someone you know grind their teeth? According to the ADA 10-15% of the population does. In severe cases, bruxism – grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth can lead to problems.
The painful results of grinding your teeth include; fractured teeth, headaches, jaw pain, chipped, flattened and worn teeth. If left untreated, permanent damage is inevitable. If you or someone you know is doing it on a regular basis, they should get help before painful and expensive damage is done.
Here are six things to know if you’re affected by bruxism:
1. It hurts more than just your teeth.
In most cases bruxism is mild. But, when it’s frequent and severe, grinding your teeth can aggravate the joints in your lower jaw, also known as the temporomandibular joints, or TMJs. This can lead to pain or tightness in the joint area, and even earaches and headaches.
2. It’s linked to stress.
You may be more likely to grind or clench your teeth if you’re tense, anxious or frustrated. However, we don’t yet fully understand all of the factors that lead to teeth grinding. Drinking caffeine or smoking before bed may be a contributing cause. Teeth grinding is also associated with certain competitive or highly determined personality types.
3. You can start doing it later in life.
Even if you’ve never been a teeth grinder or clencher, that doesn’t mean you’ll never become one. Since stress is the main cause of bruxism, you may become a teeth grinder or clencher later on due to unexpected changes and challenges in your life.
4. You may not know you’re doing it.
Convinced you never grind your teeth? Since it commonly happens while you’re sleeping, many people may be unaware of it. If you have unexplained facial pain, earaches or headaches, or tenderness around the jaw joint, you could be grinding without knowing it. Often, it’s a sleep partner who will complain about being disturbed during the night.
5. Children do it more than adults.
Approximately 20-30% of children grind their teeth at night. One survey puts the figure as high as 38 percent. Does that mean our kids are stressed out? Not necessarily. Children may also grind their teeth when they’re coping with earaches or teething, or it may be related to their jaw and tooth growth and development. Fascinating fact: Bruxism runs in families. Children who grind their teeth usually outgrow it by adolescence.
6. IT’S TREATABLE!
Now the good news: In many cases, no treatment is needed. Sometimes, just changing the position you sleep in, or eliminating caffeine or smoking before bed can reduce teeth grinding. If the problem is severe, there are other ways to stop the gnashing of teeth at night. A common and very successful approach is a mouth guard, which fits over your teeth and reduces or eliminates damage from grinding during sleep. It will also ease the associated joint pain.
If you are grinding your teeth, you do have options. Just respond to this post or give us a call to schedule an appointment.