If you’re one of the many people who grind and clench throughout the day or while sleeping, find comfort in the fact that we have the solutions for you.
In this article, Lifetime Smiles will talk about solutions and symptoms of grinding and clenching, otherwise known as bruxism. If you’re ready to find relief, keep reading.
Symptoms of bruxism
As you may already know, grinding and clenching can cause uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms. It can also wake up your bed partner in the middle of the night if your grinding becomes too loud (and if they’re a light sleeper).
Some symptoms include:
- An increase in tooth sensitivity. Your teeth may start to become sensitive, but the sensitivity can increase over time.
- Tightness or tiredness in your jaw muscles. You’ll often wake up feeling this way or feeling this way at times throughout the day.
- Pain or uncomfortable feeling in or near your ear. You may confuse this with an ear infection or other problems with the ear, but it’s always best to get checked by the dentist.
- A dull headache which starts in the temple regions.
- Pain and/or soreness in the facial region and/or jaw.
- Worn-down tooth enamel. You’ll notice this when you open your mouth and do a visual inspection of your teeth.
- Chipped, loose, flattened, or fractured teeth. Again, you’ll notice this during a visual inspection of your teeth.
If you experience only one or two of the symptoms, it may not be enough to think you need a dentist appointment.
How do you know whether you need an appointment or not? Something we’ll cover in the next section…keep reading!
How do you know when it’s time to go to the dentist?
A list of bruxism symptoms may be helpful, but that’s all it is— a list. How do you know when to act on the symptoms you’re feeling? How do you know when the problem becomes a big enough problem to call the dentist? It is better to be safe than sorry, so don’t hesitate to call for an appointment if you are experiencing some of the aforementioned symptoms.
However, if you’re the type of person who would rather wait to see “if it’ll get better on its own,” it won’t. Bruxism doesn’t just get better, unfortunately.
It’s best to make an appointment to get proper treatment if:
- You’re experiencing pain in your ear, face, or jaw
- Others begin to complain of the grinding noise while you sleep
- Your jaw locks and you cannot open or close your mouth completely
- Your teeth become worn, sensitive, or damaged
So, the next time your partner wakes you up in the middle of the night telling you to “stop making that annoying, grinding noise,” do yourself a favor— call to schedule an appointment.
Trust us…you’re not the only one who gets woken up in the middle of the night because of grinding noises.
How common is teeth grinding and clenching?
Bruxism impacts many people’s lives, unfortunately. In fact, according to the American Sleep Association, “Bruxism is a common sleep disorder, affecting 10% of people and as many as 15% of children. The bruxism rates decrease with age, and this may be due to the reflexive action that often causes bruxism. Bruxism rates are also higher in people with a family history of the disorder, with rates as high as 50%.” (source: https://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-general-public/bruxism/)
Who is affected more by bruxism—males or females?
Great question. Males and females are affected just about equally. Unfortunately, bruxism often goes undetected, sometimes until it causes significant tooth damage. Bruxism is often first recognized by your dentist.
When you visit our office for routine checkups, we carefully inspect the teeth for possible signs of damage, often caused by clenching or grinding.
If Dr. Forester suspects bruxism damage, the conversation will open up to remedies and solutions for bruxism, as well as other possible symptoms to look out for.
Remedies and solutions for grinding and clenching teeth
Are there home remedies or solutions you can try on your own to either minimize grinding/clenching, or at least minimize the symptoms until you can see the dentist?
Yes and yes.
If you notice that your jaw area is swollen or inflamed, use an ice pack. Wrap it in a cloth before applying it, and only use it for 10- to 15-minute increments.
Practice relaxation techniques if you feel stressed out or anxious. High stress and anxiety oftentimes lead to grinding or clenching. The next time you feel stressed out during the day, take notice to your jaw—is it clamped tightly closed, creating intense pressure on your teeth? If so, try breathing exercises or other healthy techniques to relieve your stress.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort that you can’t handle any longer, over-the-counter pain medicines or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can provide relief. Speak with your doctor before taking any medications.
To further reduce pain and improve jaw function, use moist heat on the facial and jaw areas. Just don’t burn yourself when applying the heat.
If these remedies or at-home solutions do not provide relief for you, Dr. Forester can help.
Also, something to keep in mind is that the remedies won’t “cure” bruxism or prevent it from happening. To do that, you’ll have to be properly diagnosed with bruxism and then receive treatment from a doctor or dentist. Dr. Jim Forester provides bruxism treatment in the form of a night guard. A night guard is often used while sleeping, and it is the most common form of treatment. It is a custom-fitted, medical-grade appliance that gets placed on top of the teeth. It is similar to a sports mouthpiece. Just remember—while you sleep, you have no control over grinding or clenching, so the night guard provides a cushion for your teeth.
If you want to find out if you have bruxism and if a night guard is right for you, call Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek, GA. Dr. Forester is trained and experienced to properly diagnose and treat grinding and clenching. We look forward to meeting you!