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Do you find yourself tightly clenching your teeth in heavy traffic, at work, or while dealing with stressful situations? Does your partner complain you loudly grind your teeth at night? Though it may seem like no big deal, you could have a subconscious condition called bruxism. Brought on by stress and anxiety, bruxism not only causes jaw pain, headaches, jagged sleep, and neck and shoulder tension, it can also cause broken teeth, facial misalignment and other temporomandibular damage. Here are some tips to help you quit grinding your teeth.

Many people don’t know they brux

According to the American Dental Association, 95 percent of Americans grind or clench their teeth at some point in their lives, but more than 20 percent of Americans suffering from bruxism don’t even know it.

So how can you determine if you are a bruxer? You are likely suffering from the following symptoms:

Headaches: If you wake up with headaches or have them after a stressful day, it could be due to your facial and head muscles being fatigued from all the teeth clenching and grinding. You may also experience ear aches.

Jaw pain: When your jaw muscles are overworked, you can experience jaw pain as well as temporomandibular jaw disorder – also known as TMJ.

Tooth damage: Worn down or loose teeth are extremely common. Some people grind their teeth with a force strong enough to crack a nut! Over time, this force can damage teeth, gums, and even facial alignment.

Neck and shoulder pain: Your neck and shoulder muscles will compensate for your tired jaw muscles, resulting in you waking up with neck and shoulder tension and achiness.

Often patients are not even aware that the grind their teeth.  That’s where your Middletown dentist comes in.  We can detect signs of bruxism such as worn teeth, cracked restorations, and overly developed muscles of mastication.  These are all clues to your Higganum dentist. 

Once the diagnosis has been made then appropriate prevention measures can be taken.  There are many treatment options available.

Treatment options for bruxism

There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available.  Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:

  • Mouthguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep.  Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage, damage to the temporomandibular joint and help to stabilize the occlusion.
  • NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth.  The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.

Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education and biofeedback mechanisms.  When the bruxing is under control, there are a variety of dental procedures such as crowns, gum grafts and crown lengthening that can restore a pleasant aesthetic appearance to the smile.

If you have questions or concerns about bruxism, please ask your Higganum dentist.