Have you ever woken up from a night’s sleep with your teeth and jaws feeling surprisingly sore? Well, chances are, you could’ve been unconsciously grinding your teeth in your sleep.

Known as bruxism, the rhythmic clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth can affect anyone at any age. Though, commonly done while asleep, it is possible for it to occur even when awake.

Throughout the day, someone who has bruxism may clench their jaws, especially when they are reading, driving, writing or lifting heavy objects.

What Are Its Symptoms?

The most common symptom of bruxism are frequent headaches, although chronic pain may also be present in the nose, ears or eyes.

Other possible symptoms to look out for include muscle aches, enlargement of facial muscles, stiffness of the neck or shoulders, sleep disorders and comfort in the TMJ or temporomandibular joint.

While the symptoms often do go away, it’s important to take note that bruxism can result to the abnormal wear and tear of the teeth, leading to fractures and quite possible, loss of teeth.

What Causes It?

Smoking, heavy and regular alcohol consumption, caffeine, anxiety, casual and chain smoking, as well as depression are all known causes of teeth grinding. However, there’s not enough evidence to directly pinpoint a single cause for bruxism.

Researchers have also found out that bruxism is more evident in people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, as well as those who snore. There’s also enough research to show a possible link between a stressful work environment or personal life and those with bruxism.

What Are The Treatment Options?

Much like how it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause, it’s also hard to pinpoint the exact treatment for the clenching or grinding of teeth. The dentist will also have to base the treatment on the possible cause.

This being so, it would be better to concern yourself with the protection from premature tooth wear and fracture. This is done best by wearing a dental appliance. These dental appliances usually come in different names, such as night guards, bite plates, occlusal bite guards and so on. However, they all are usually worn only at night and serve just one purpose, and that’s to help reduce jaw muscle pain and protect your temporomandibular joint, as well as your teeth. You can get them from your local pharmacy, or from your dentist. The dentist is a better option because it ensures that the occlusal appliance is made specifically for you for a better fit.

If your bruxism is the result of anxiety or stress, you can take up behavioral management classes. You can also try to learn relaxation techniques, meditation and even psychoanalysis help you manage anxiety and stress better. Also, if you’re interested, hypnosis have shown some promise to help relieve bruxism symptoms.

The first step in putting an end to the clenching and grinding of your teeth is to visit your dentist for an evaluation. Though, you may also visit an oral or maxillofacial surgeon, or even a sleep doctor to undergo a sleep study. Either way, you can only find out about the underlying cause and implement a treatment plan through an evaluation, making it very important that you visit a specialist as soon as you can.

If you’re ready to put an end to the clenching and grinding of your teeth, contact Dr. Steven Crandall of South Hills Dental Arts in Upper St. Clair, PA at 412-833-6166 to schedule an appointment today. Or visitwww.southhillsdentalarts.com for additional information.

Dr. Steven Crandall of South Hills Dental Arts proudly accepts patients from Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park, Mt Lebanon, Peters Township, Pittsburgh, South Hill and all surrounding areas