With the stress of the world going on right now, you might find yourself waking up to your teeth clenched together. You might also wake up to a sore jaw and highly sensitive teeth. These are all signs that you’re grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep. This condition is known as bruxism. Unfortunately, with consistent bruxism, it can harm your teeth.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the action of clenching or grinding your teeth while sleeping or during the day. Your brain or conscious has no control over the habit. Bruxism can exert the force of your jaw three to ten times more than when you chew. When you eat food, food acts as a cushion between the force of your teeth. With bruxism, there is no cushion so your teeth endure the complete force. Over time, this can lead to unfortunate side effects on your dental health.

What Causes Bruxism?

Bruxism can be caused by several reasons including the following:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Sleep disorders
  • Side effect from medications
  • Acid reflux
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Drinking caffeine
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Malocclusion
  • Allergies

Bruxism’s Effect on Your Teeth

With consistent clenching and grinding, you may notice that your teeth begin to wear down. Without proper treatment, your teeth may end up looking like short little nubs that require dental crowns to fix. Clenching and grinding can also cause teeth to crack or break or for your gums to recede. You may experience increased tooth sensitivity and tooth decay from excessive grinding and clenching. Some patients may fracture dental fillings, teeth or restorations.

Not only will bruxism affect your dental health, but you may experience other symptoms related to TMJ such as frequent headachesjaw, neck and back pain, ear pain, ringing in the ear, sore jaws, clicking or popping when opening and closing your mouth, difficulty chewing your mouth and much more. TMJ can be extremely painful and really impact your quality of life.

How to Treat Bruxism

At Smile Columbia in Columbia, SC, we use a drug-free approach to treating your bruxism symptoms. We will work to relax the muscles located near your temporomandibular joint to relieve the pressure on your jaw. We will likely provide you with a nightguard to protect your teeth at night and create a plan to address the real reason you are clenching or grinding at night. Some patients may require orthodontics to fix their bite while others may need sleep apnea treatment or make lifestyle changes. We will help you find the underlying cause of your bruxism and find the right treatment plan for you.

If you’re ready to live pain-free and stop bruxism for good, please contact our Columbia dental office today for an appointment with Dr. Hahn by calling (803) 781-9090.