Clenching or grinding your teeth while asleep is common among children and adults, with an estimated prevalence rate of up to 31%. Occasionally clenching or grinding your teeth most likely won’t cause any harm, but when it starts to cause headaches, tooth or jaw pain, or damage to your teeth, you may have a condition known as bruxism.
Bruxism is the conscious or unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth. Because of the force applied during bruxism episodes, the condition can hurt your jaw muscles, teeth, and temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which connect your jawbone to your skull and allow you to open and close your eyes or mouth.
You may clench and grind your teeth during the day (awake bruxism), but it is more common to do it at night while you sleep (sleep-related bruxism). A key challenge with bruxism is that it’s much harder for people to know that they are grinding their teeth while sleeping. However, you’ll likely experience any of the following symptoms and signs of bruxism:
- Jaw, ear, or headache pain when waking up
- Disrupted sleep
- Increased tooth sensitivity or pain
- Fatigue from lack of sleep
Causes of Bruxism
Multiple factors influence the risk of sleep bruxism, so it’s usually impossible to identify one single cause for why people grind their teeth. However, certain risk factors are associated with a greater probability of bruxism, including:
- Daily stress and anxiety
- Abnormal bite
- Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
- Family members with bruxism
- Missing or crooked teeth
- Taking certain psychiatric medicines like antidepressants
- Smoking tobacco, heavy alcohol use, caffeinated drinks
- Certain neurological disorders such as Rett syndrome
- People with aggressive, hurried, or overly competitive tendencies
What Happens If Bruxism Is Left Untreated?
If left untreated, bruxism can cause several problems, such as:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Worn-down teeth
- Tooth damage
- Potential tooth loss
- Gum inflammation or bleeding
- Loose, flattened, or short teeth
- Jaw dislocation or locking of the jaw
- Tooth fracture
- Damage to the inside of the cheek
- Head, jaw, or ear pain
- TMJ syndrome, which causes pain, tension, and difficulty chewing
How Do You Treat Bruxism?
One of the most common treatments for bruxism is a nightguard. This is an oral device that you wear over your teeth while sleeping at night. The nightguard for bruxism evens out the pressure across your jaw and creates a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth, preventing them from grinding or clenching on a regular basis. This cushioning helps prevent face and jaw pain and protects the enamel of your teeth.
There are three main types of nightguards for bruxism:
- Boil and bite style: This nightguard can be purchased at the store, but you will need to boil it and then place it in your mouth and bite down to make an impression before using it.
- One-size-fits-all: You can purchase this nightguard over the counter and use it instantly without any molding or preparation. While one-size-fits-all nightguards can provide a quick, affordable, and convenient solution, they aren’t known for comfort, fit, and effectiveness.
- Custom-made: Custom-made nightguards are the most effective way of treating bruxism. They offer the most accurate fit because they are custom-made based on detailed impressions and images of your smile. The device will fit much like a mouthguard and can be designed to work in different ways. Some are designed to prevent damage to your teeth, while others prevent the upper and lower teeth from touching to eliminate grinding. Dr. Senan Ziadeh will help design the right kind of mouth guard for you.
Nightguards For Bruxism in McAllen, TX
Bruxism is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can damage your teeth, cause tooth loss, affect your jaws, cause or worsen TMD disorder and even change the appearance of your face. At Senan Orthodontic Studios, we are committed to helping you achieve optimal oral health. Our custom-made nightguards from bruxism can help prevent or reduce the effects of clenching or grinding your teeth. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!