Bruxism, a term used for the grinding and/or clenching of your teeth, is a common issue that affects many people. It can be caused by any number of factors - stress, sleep disorders, a medication side effect.
Grinding and clenching can happen during the day or night (known as sleep bruxism) and is often unconscious. Over time, it can have a significant impact on your mouth.
You may experience pain in your jaw and headaches. Eventually, you may start to notice wear on your teeth, receding gums and your teeth may become loose. These issues are severe, but there are ways to avoid them.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Drinking alcohol can intensify unconscious grinding. Caffeine - coffee, chocolate and soda - can make you wired, causing you to grind and clench more frequently. Avoiding these triggers can lessen the likelihood of bruxism.
Much of the clenching and grinding you do occurs at night, making it very difficult to control. A mouth guard, also known as an occlusal device, can protect your teeth and relieve the pressure on the jaw. Usually, only one guard, for either the top or the bottom teeth, is needed. Your dentist can provide you with a custom fit.
Mandibular Advancement Device
Clenching and grinding can often occur with snoring or sleep apnea. A mandibular advancement device is a custom fit device that goes over both your upper and lower teeth and brings your bottom jaw forward. So not only will it help with clenching and grinding, it can also help with these sleep issues.
Sleep Disorder Treatment
Bruxism often occurs alongside sleep disorders. Fixing the sleep disorder can usually solve your problems with bruxism.
Stress Management Stress and anxiety can cause bruxism. Practicing stress management - relaxation techniques, meditation and exercise - can lower your stress, therefore lessening your odds of grinding your teeth.
Bruxism can have a significant impact on your teeth and jaws. Finding the cause of grinding and clenching will bring you one step closer to stopping it.