If you grind and clench your teeth — a condition known as bruxism — you’ve probably woken up with jaw or face pain at some point. But bruxism can do more than just cause jaw pain. Over time, continued teeth grinding can put you at risk for complications like joint damage, headaches, and wear-and-tear on your teeth.
At Haider Family Dentistry in Salem, Oregon, Dr. Jeremy Haider and our team offer custom mouthguards to protect you from the effects of bruxism. Here, we explain more about this condition and how mouthguards can help.
Complications of bruxism
If you have mild to moderate bruxism, you may not necessarily experience any symptoms or even be aware that you’re grinding and clenching your teeth while you sleep. While it’s most common during sleep, some people with bruxism also grind their teeth and clench their jaw while they’re awake without realizing it.
If you’ve ever woken up with pain or stiffness in your face and jaw without knowing why, it may be that you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, bruxism is most common among teenagers, but it can also affect young children as soon as their teeth start to grow in as well as older adults.
The stress on your teeth and jaw due to bruxism can lead to dental problems and complications over time. Here are three of the most common issues.
Headaches and facial pain
Grinding and clenching your teeth over a prolonged period can cause jaw pain, tension headaches, and tightness and strain in your temples and face. If you notice that you wake up with pain and regularly feel tightness around your jaw, contact us to schedule an appointment for a dental exam.
TMJ disorder/joint damage
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a sliding hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull. The stress of continued grinding and clenching can damage this joint and cause pain, inflammation, stiffness, and even locking, also known as TMJ disorder.
Worn enamel and tooth damage
Some people aren’t aware that they’ve been grinding their teeth until they go to the dentist for a checkup. In some cases, your dentist can tell that you have bruxism just by looking at your teeth.
The pressure from prolonged grinding can wear down tooth enamel and even chip away at the surface of your teeth, increasing your risk of chips and fractures. If the damage is extensive enough, you may need to reinforce one or more of the damaged teeth with restorations like veneers or crowns.
What can you do to protect yourself from bruxism?
Anyone can develop bruxism, but factors like stress, anxiety, certain health conditions, and family history can increase your risk. The best thing you can do to protect your teeth and gums from long term damage due to bruxism and other oral health issues is to get a dental exam every six months.
If you suffer from bruxism, Dr. Haider may recommend a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth and jaw while you sleep. Even if your symptoms are mild, bruxism can also disrupt your sleep, affecting everything from your productivity at work to your overall quality of life.
For more information about bruxism treatment, contact Haider Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment with Dr. Haider today.