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Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Have you ever woken up with a headache? Have you noticed your jaw clicking, or felt a twinge of pain in your jaw muscles or temples? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might be experiencing bruxism.

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding and clenching your teeth. It is a very common disorder, and as it usually occurs during sleep, many people are unaware that they are doing it. Bruxism can also occur in the daytime when a person is stressed or upset.

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Do I have bruxism?

While some people may not be aware of their teeth grinding or clenching, there are some tell-tale signs which may indicate you have the condition. These include:

  • Morning headaches
  • A clicking jaw
  • Pain in the jaw muscles or temples
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • A disrupted sleep
  • Tooth sensitivity or pain
  • A misaligned jaw
  • Pain or tenderness in the face or neck
  • Teeth which have become flattened, fractured, chipped or loose

What teeth grinding does to your teeth and jaw

As well as the aforementioned headaches and the jaw tenderness, grinding your teeth can actually physically wear them down. You can slowly but surely take millimetres off your teeth, changing the way your jaw fits together and altering your smile forever.

This misalignment of the jaw can go on to cause TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders). TMD causes an ache in the joint of your jaw, on one side or both. The pain is most noticeable when chewing or opening your mouth wide (to yawn for example) and a popping or clicking sound can be heard as the joint becomes displaced from its socket. Needless to say, it is very unpleasant and it can last for anything from a few days or weeks to much longer periods of time, and in these extreme cases surgery may be required.

Causes of teeth grinding

Stress and anxiety, as well as caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes, often contribute to teeth grinding. Medications for sleep, depression and anxiety can also cause teeth grinding. Missing teeth, or a misaligned jaw, and disorders such as sleep apnoea can also contribute to teeth grinding.

Treatment for teeth grinding

In some cases, we would consider bruxism treatments such as equilibration (evening out the surface of your teeth), crowns, veneers or orthodontics. However, by far the quickest and easiest remedy for the symptoms of bruxism is some form of bite guard. We provide a range of bite guards, from small Sleep Clench Inhibitors, which slot over the front teeth, to larger mouth guards that allow the jaw to move freely by levelling and softening the surface between your teeth. At Station Square Dental we have many solutions to ease your discomfort, each one specifically tailored to your individual needs.