If you find yourself waking up with sore jaw muscles, aching in the face, head and neck or a headache, you may be suffering from bruxism, the grinding and clenching of teeth. Bruxism is very common condition that affects approximately 30 million to 40 million children and adults in the U.S.. Bruxism can cause teeth to become painful or loose, sensitive, crack and worn away. Eventually, bruxism can destroy the surrounding bone and gum tissue. Catching bruxism early is important because frequent grinding can remove some of the enamel from your teeth and, in more severe cases, expose the underlying layer of dentin. This can lead to sensitivity and tooth decay. Other outcomes from heavy grinding are flattened cusps and fractured teeth or fillings. It can also lead to problems involving the jaw joint, such as temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). Signs of TMD include chronic pain or soreness in the joint area, clicking or popping sounds when chewing and difficulty opening your mouth.
When you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping, the force your jaws exert is three to ten times greater than during regular chewing. When you’re eating, part of the intensity of chewing is buffered by the food, but with sleep bruxism, your teeth receive the entire force of your jaws.
For many people, bruxism is an unconscious habit. They may not even realize they’re doing it until someone comments that they make a horrible grinding sound while sleeping. For others, a routine dental checkup is when they discover their teeth are worn or their tooth enamel is fractured.
If your teeth are severely worn down or fractured, or you have broken fillings, your dentist may need to restore them with new fillings or crowns. To prevent further wear to your teeth, the simplest solution is to use a professionally made high quality night guard. This separates your teeth so that they are not damaged by grinding or clenching. Night guards and splints are worn at night while sleeping. They won’t eliminate your bruxism, but they will protect your teeth and help redistribute the force of teeth clenching or grinding.
Call our office at Sunrise Dental of Kent to evaluate your grinding or clenching issue and to fabricate a high quality custom night guard.