Have you been waking up with jaw pain, headaches or tooth pain? Has your spouse told you that they can hear you grinding your teeth at night? If so, you likely have bruxism. While preventing bruxism can be difficult, you can minimize the damage that it causes to your teeth and jaw joints by using a night guard.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism, put simply, is when you grind or clench your teeth. Most people clench or grind their teeth while there are asleep at night; however, some individuals may have a daytime habit due to a stressful job or lifestyle. While this may seem like an obvious disorder to get treated, it can actually be pretty tricky—since more often than not you are sleeping when it happens. Many people will go day-to- day wondering why their jaw, teeth or head are hurting, without realizing that it is because of something that is going on while they are asleep.
This is why it’s extremely important to see your dentist if you start to experience pain of any kind with your teeth or jaw. While you may eventually figure out that something is going on while you’re sleeping, it may be a little too late.
What Does Bruxism Do to Your Health?
The reason why it’s important to catch bruxism as early as possible is because of the damage that grinding your teeth and/or clenching your jaw at can cause.
Some of these oral health problems may include:
- Jaw Pain
- Fractured or Cracked Teeth
- Worn Teeth
- Joint Pain
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Muscle Pain and Fatigue
If your bruxism isn’t treated, you also run the risk of developing TMJ diosrder—which can bring the difficulties that you are having to another level.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)?
When the temporomandibular joint of your jaw becomes unhinged, it causes inflammation and injury. This disorder is known as TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. TMJ disorder can lead to a lot of pain and damage to the teeth and jaw if untreated.
Some of the causes of TMJ disorder include:
- Dislocation of the Cushioning Disc
- Whiplash or Blunt Trauma to the Jaw
By the time you develop TMJ disorder, you’ll know that there is something wrong. As soon as you start to notice the symptoms of TMJ disorder, you’ll want to set an appointment with your dentist immediately.
What Are the Effects of TMJ disorder?
When you develop TMJ disorder, you’ll notice a variety of painful symptoms. These include:
- Jaw Fatigue
- Trouble with Chewing
- Popping or Clicking Noises in the Joints of the Jaw
- Pain in Your Jaw, Face, Neck and Even Shoulders, While Yawning, Speaking or Chewing Food
- Teeth Sensitivity
- Symptoms Associated with Bruxism
While these symptoms can be extremely painful, both Bruxism and TMJ disorder are treatable—as is the damage that has been caused to your jaw and teeth. Sadly, though, if you’ve let the issue persist for too long, you may not be able to restore your teeth to their natural state. Instead, you may need to have crowns, bonding or other dental cosmetics placed. This is a major reason why you need to see your dentist as soon as you start to feel the symptoms listed above. With enough notice and proper treatment, you can still save the integrity of your teeth and jaw.
Interested in Learning More about Bruxism and TMJ?
Contact West Mobile Dental Care Today at (251) 666-3600 or through our contact form.
How to Help Treat Bruxism
While a trip to your dentist is extremely important when you start to experience these symptoms, there are a few things that you can do to help treat bruxism before any major damage is done.
- Cutting Down On Caffeine Intake
- Jaw Relaxation Techniques
- Anxiety and Stress Management
Keep in mind that these suggestions may help to slow down the damage caused by bruxism, but you’ll still want to make sure that your bruxism is properly treated by a dentist. It’s also important to note that in many cases, bruxism is brought on by stress. Because of this, you’ll want to consider meeting with a mental health professional to see what your options are for handling the stress and/or anxiety that may be manifesting in the form of you grinding or clenching your teeth at night.
How Are Bruxism and TMJ Disorders Treated?
First and foremost, in order to treat either bruxism or TMJ disorder, you’ll want to set an appointment with your dentist. They will then examine you to see if you have these conditions, and what your treatment plan will look like. Both treatments will likely involve a night guard/occlusal guard.
What Is a Night Guard/Occlusal Guard?
An occlusal guard (also known as a “night guard”) is a plastic guard that helps to protect your teeth at night from grinding or clenching. The occlusal guard also helps to position your jaw joint in a more stable relaxed position.
How to Get a Night Guard
When you visit your dentist, they will determine whether you need a night guard for bruxism, or for TMJ disorder. These two disorders require different occlusal guard designs. If you have bruxism, you’ll receive a basic mouth night guard to prevent you from clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, eliminating the damage that you are doing to your teeth and jaw. For TMJ disorders, you’ll need what is called a “splint.” This is a more rigid material made from acrylic that helps to change the jaw position and raise the bite. This will help to address the symptoms of TMJ disorder, while also removing the discomfort associated with the disorder. Once you are provided a night guard by your dentist, it’s important to use this occlusal guard daily. If you are treated for any underlying issues related to stress and the problem goes away, you can speak with your dentist about no longer sleeping with your night guard. Until then, you’ll want to wear your occlusal guard regularly.
Also make sure that you clean your night guard by brushing it regularly. If you don’t do this, plaque will build up inside of your occlusal guard. It is common to have to replaced an occlusal guard over time, as some individuals will actually grind through them due to their strong habit.
Interested in Learning More about Bruxism and TMJ? Contact West Mobile Dental Care Today at (251) 666-3600 or through our contact form.