Do you have frequent headaches? Difficulty chewing? Jaw and neck pain? These all may be signs of bruxism.
Bruxism is the term that is used to describe grinding, clenching, or gnashing of the teeth. While there is no known cure for teeth grinding, there are simple ways to go about treating teeth grinding that will prevent most negative side effects.
During a comprehensive dental examination, our team at SmileScapes Dentistry in Alpharetta Georgia, can look for the signs of teeth grinding, as well as recommend a course of action. If left neglected, teeth grinding can cause serious tooth damage, and even lead to loose teeth or painful infections. That’s why it is important to address teeth grinding as early as possible to prevent serious damage.
Symptoms and Causes of Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding can lead to many painful symptoms. The most common indication of teeth grinding is a headache. Other symptoms include muscle aches, enlargement of facial muscles, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort, stiffness of the shoulders and neck, ear pain, and trouble sleeping.
So, what exactly causes bruxism? Stress, anxiety, heavy alcohol and caffeine consumption, depression, and sleep disorders are known to cause teeth grinding. While all these causes have been linked to teeth grinding, research shows that 70 percent of people who grind and clench their teeth do so because of anxiety and stress.
Treatment for Teeth Grinding in Alpharetta
Undoubtedly, teeth grinding is not only annoying — it is painful too. So, how can you stop grinding your teeth? Well, it depends on the cause of your teeth grinding.
The best way to protect your teeth is to wear an occlusal appliance. You may have heard of night guards, bite plates, bruxism appliances, or occlusal bite plates – these all mean the same thing and are used to treat teeth grinding.
Night guards are custom fitted plastic mouthpieces that fit over your top or bottom teeth. They are intended to reduce jaw muscle pain and protect your teeth from the wear and tear which teeth grinding causes.
If sleep apnea is the root cause of the teeth grinding issue, a mandibular advancement device may be used instead of a night guard. The mandibular advancement device is similar to an occlusal appliance; however, it will typically work to bring the bottom jaw forward. These devices are the preferred method of treatment when snoring and sleep apnea disorders are the root cause of teeth grinding.
In most cases, the root cause of teeth grinding stems from anxiety and stress. In this case, behavioral methods and relaxation techniques must be used to help manage stress, and to help you overcome teeth grinding.
In addition to the above, jaw exercises will help relax and strengthen your jaw. When performed daily, they can be an effective method to help manage teeth grinding.
Performing each of the following exercises daily can help teeth grinding:
- Place your thumb underneath your chin and open and close the mouth while keeping your thumb in place.
- Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and open and close your mouth.
- Position a finger just inside your mouth and let your jaw go slack.
Get Help for Teeth Grinding at Smile Dentistry
While there is a no cure for teeth grinding, with proper treatment, behavioral methods, and relaxation treatments, teeth grinding can be managed.
If you are concerned that you may be grinding your teeth, we encourage you to contact SmileScapes Dentistry in Alpharetta, Georgia. We can provide you with an estimate on a custom night guard to help stop teeth grinding, as well as offer a comprehensive treatment plan.