Many people experience teeth grinding in sleep without realizing it or clench and grind their teeth during the day as a reaction to stress. The medical name for teeth grinding in children and adults is bruxism, regardless of how it occurs.
The reasons that people clench or grind their teeth are as unique as they are. When the problem occurs during daytime hours, stress, anxiety, and attempting to concentrate deeply are the most common triggers. Teeth grinding and clenching that occurs at night is often the result of sleep apnea, acid reflux, or unconscious stress. Certain medications, particularly those in the anti-depressant family, can also contribute to the problem.
Common Symptoms and Consequences of Bruxism
Because teeth grinding often occurs during sleep, it can be difficult to pinpoint bruxism as the cause. Here are some typical symptoms that can occur due to clenching and grinding teeth:
- Ear pain
- Facial pain
- Jaw pain
- Migraine headaches
- Pain in the shoulder and neck areas
- Your jaw clicks when you open your mouth to eat, sneeze, laugh, or yawn
- Your jaw joints lock up and cause severe pain
Maybe you think these symptoms do not sound serious, but they can cause significant issues if you continue to ignore them. For example, you could break a tooth, increase the likelihood of needing teeth filled due to tooth decay, or develop temporomandibular joint disorder. Fortunately, bruxism is usually an easy problem for us at Ammons Dental to treat.
Bruxism Treatment Options
Our dental team always tries the least invasive treatment method first. For example, we may refer you to a behavior modification specialist who can help you identify stress triggers. Once you have a better understanding of what is causing you to clench your teeth, you and the specialist work together to come up with more appropriate methods for handling or eliminating the stress triggers from your life.
Wearing a mouth guard for teeth grinding at night is another non-invasive type of bruxism that we often recommend. The mouth guard prevents you from griding your teeth and may even wake you up momentarily. While you might not appreciate the interruption in sleep, it will help you become more aware of your teeth grinding that may have been entirely subconscious until this point.
If these methods fail to bring relief or just do not seem right for you, another possibility is to refer you to your regular doctor to receive a prescription for muscle relaxers. Dr. Ammons will review your current list of medications to determine if any of them potentially increase the risk of teeth grinding.
Botox injections are another possibility for you to consider. These injections temporarily paralyze the muscles responsible for teeth grinding without changing the appearance of your face or the function of its muscles.
Are you ready to be free of bruxism for good? Your first step is to contact our dental practice in Camden, Charleston, James Island, or Summerville to request an initial exam and consultation. Dr. Ammons will work with you and will recommend one or more treatment options after confirming that you do indeed have bruxism.