Causes of Bruxism
There is no single cause of bruxism, and doctors remain divided on what exactly causes the condition. Teeth grinding may be due to a combination of factors that are genetic, physical, and psychological. In children, nighttime teeth grinding is considered to be a normal part of adolescent development.
Adults may experience jaw clenching during the day (awake bruxism) or at night (sleep bruxism). Stress and other emotions are believed to play some role in many adults’ symptoms. TMJ disorder, which results from poor alignment of the temporomandibular joints, is another common cause.
Young age, a hyperactive personality, certain medications, use of stimulants or depressants, and a family history of bruxism are common risk factors for this condition.
Individuals with this condition do not always notice symptoms, especially in the earliest stages of bruxism. Common signs of teeth grinding may include:
Nighttime grinding that may be loud enough to wake your partner
Worn, chipped, or cracked teeth
Heightened tooth sensitivity
Tired or achy jaw muscles
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, call our office so one of our doctors can screen you for bruxism. The condition is more than a quality of life issue. Untreated bruxism can damage restorations, interfere with jaw function, and cause tension-type headaches.
The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the less likely you are to suffer irreversible symptoms like chipped, worn, or broken teeth.
Pain that radiates to the ears
Proper diagnosis of bruxism requires an examination at our dental office. One of our doctors will inquire into your general health, medical history, symptoms, and any medications that you are currently taking. Determining the extent of your bruxism requires an examination of enamel wear and jaw function. Complex cases may require a referral to a specialist, such as a sleep medicine therapist.
Bruxism is most commonly addressed through orthodontic treatment or with the use of a bruxism appliance. A bruxism appliance (also known as a night guard or splint) is custom-made for your teeth. The appliance places a safe and comfortable barrier between your upper and lower rows of teeth that prevents enamel wear.
Once your candidacy for a bruxism appliance has been established, one of our doctors will take a digital impression of your mouth and jaw. That information will be sent to a trusted dental lab that will fabricate your nightguard. If your condition is caused by teeth misalignment (malocclusion), you may be fitted with either traditional braces or Invisalign clear aligners. Orthodontic treatments can take several months to a few years to complete, but there are numerous restorative and cosmetic benefits to having properly aligned teeth.
Treating bruxism in its earliest stages can prevent serious dental problems like chipped or cracked teeth. Individuals with bruxism are also at high risk for tooth decay due to the enamel wear that often accompanies nighttime grinding.