Bruxism, more commonly referred to as teeth grinding, is a condition that many people experience. Relatively common in childhood, people typically grow out of bruxism by the time they reach adulthood. Though, this is not always the case and an adult can experience chronic bruxism or occasional bouts of the condition during periods of stress.

At Century Dental, Century Dental East, and Seaview Dental, we frequently see patients who experience teeth grinding, often recognizing it before the patient is aware of the condition. In today’s blog, we will answer questions about teeth grinding, how to recognize if you grind your teeth, and what to do about it. Keep reading to learn more!

What Causes Bruxism?

There are two main types of bruxism: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Awake bruxism, like its name suggests, occurs while a person is awake and is most often the direct result of stress, anger, or anxiety, but can also be a habit that has formed during deep concentration, similar to chewing on a pencil.

Sleep bruxism, on the other hand, occurs while a person is sleeping and is often due to an abnormal bite, missing, or crooked teeth. It is also possible for sleep bruxism to be a side effect of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.

How Do I Know If I Grind My Teeth?

Because teeth grinding is an unconscious habit, many people do not even realize they do it. In fact, some people might not realize there is a problem until their partner tells them that they grind their teeth in their sleep or until a dentist notices abnormal wear and tear on the surface of the teeth. There are a few symptoms of bruxism, though, that you might be able to catch yourself:

  • Waking up with a sore jaw, neck, or face
  • Experiencing a locked jaw that will not open or close fully
  • Increased sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Waking up with a dull headache
  • Unexplained fractured, chipped, or loose teeth

What Can Teeth Grinding Do To My Teeth?

Bruxism can, not surprisingly, grind your teeth down over time, resulting in exposure of the inner layers of the tooth and wearing down the teeth into stumps. This can result in the need for dental crowns, bridges, implants, or other restorative dentistry treatments. Grinding your teeth can also cause chronic facial and jaw pain, leaving you feeling uncomfortable throughout the day. As your dentists, we want to prevent all of this and solve the issue before it becomes a major problem.

Regular dental checkups give us the opportunity to examine the state of your teeth and check for abnormalities that may suggest you are grinding your teeth. Permanent damage from teeth grinding doesn’t happen overnight. The onset of damage might be so slow that you don’t even realize it is happening until it’s too late, making it even more vital to see us every six months.

What Can Be Done About Bruxism?

If you find or suspect that you have been grinding your teeth, you have several options.

The most common treatment is to have one of our dentists fit you with a nighttime mouthguard to reduce teeth grinding and prevent further damage. But sleep bruxism can also be caused by bad sleep habits, so cutting back on caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon could prevent teeth grinding at night as well.

Awake bruxism treatment typically involves gaining control of the stress, anxiety, or anger that is causing you to grind or clench your teeth. Changing daily habits to include exercise or meditation, seeking professional therapy or counseling, and engaging in daily hobbies can be beneficial in reducing the amount of stress you experience.

Come See One Of Our Dentists Soon!

Whether you’ve been waking up with a headache and a sore jaw or you simply want to know more about the state of your teeth, we encourage you to make an appointment at one of our three dental offices in New Jersey. The hygienists and dentists at Century Dental, Century Dental East, or Seaview Dental can perform a thorough examination and cleaning and address any problems you might be experiencing. Request an appointment today!