Some patients react to stress by grinding their teeth subconsciously during the day or while sleeping. The constant pressure and motion can harm teeth, muscles and tissues in and around the jaw. This condition is known as bruxism and it can be alleviated with a nightguard.
Common symptoms of bruxism include a sore jaw, headaches or earaches. Causes vary but may include stress, anxiety, tension, misaligned teeth, posture, diet, sleeping habits and other factors. Bruxism is most prevalent in women and generally found in about one third of the population.
Individuals who react to stress with anger, pain, frustration, aggression or competition are most commonly affected. People with bruxism may have other biting habits, such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips or the insides of their cheeks.
Constant clenching and grinding of the teeth cannot only cause the aforementioned symptoms. It may also contribute to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, which has a long list of side effects associated with pain in the head and neck. Teeth rubbing together consistently will result in surface wear over time and cause dental problems as a result. Insomnia, eating disorders and depression can result from bruxism if left untreated.
How can you stop a subconscious habit? A thorough evaluation will allow us to check your teeth, tissues and muscles. If we determine that you suffer from bruxism, we'll create a dental appliance (also called a nightguard) to reduce the effects of grinding and clenching. Many types of nightguards exist and patients react differently to the various styles. If one appliance does not work, another might. In many cases, simply wearing a nightguard will eliminate the problem. However, we can prescribe alternative therapies to correct the issue if it persists.
Some practices that can relieve symptoms of bruxism include stress and anxiety management, focused facial relaxation, massage and stretching of face and neck muscles, applying ice, proper rest, eating soft foods and hydrating the body. If your teeth were damaged because of bruxism or if we find TMJ to be a factor, our team will repair the damage and treat you to provide complete relief.