What Cedar Park, Texas Dental Patients Should Know About Teeth Grinding Symptoms

Teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) is a fairly common problem for people of different ages throughout the Cedar Park, Texas area. Although the majority of people who suffer from teeth grinding do so mostly while they sleep, clenching and/or grinding teeth during the day also causes issues. If you’re one of these people, or if a member of your family grinds their teeth, it’s important to be able to recognize the teeth grinding symptoms, understand the underlying causes, and find out what can be done to treat the condition.

Symptoms of Bruxism

It may sound strange, but it’s true – you could be suffering from bruxism and not even realize it!

That’s why we begin by describing several of the most common symptoms that indicate you are grinding and/or clenching your teeth.

These include the following:

  • Tired and/or tight jaw muscles – Clenching and grinding your teeth involves tightening of your jaw, and that can lead to soreness, as well as a jaw that locks in place. Another indication that your jaw muscles are tight is if you have trouble opening your mouth wide or closing your mouth completely.
  • Headaches, particularly in the morning – If you wake up with a headache, it could be because you’ve been grinding your teeth overnight. These headaches may resemble tension headaches, which often manifest in your temple and jaw area.
  • Pain or soreness in your neck, face and/or jaw – We talked earlier about jaw soreness, but grinding your teeth at night can also result in pain elsewhere, such as your neck or other areas of your face.
  • Disrupted sleep – There are several reasons why people experience disrupted sleep, and one of those is bruxism. Poor quality sleep can take a toll on your overall health, and is one of the reasons why treating bruxism is so important.
  • Earaches – If you experience frequent earaches, but your doctor tells you there’s nothing wrong with your ears, the root cause could be teeth grinding. Bruxism causes pain and discomfort that feels like an earache, even though your ears may be perfectly healthy.
  • Tooth sensitivity – Bruxism results in wearing down of the enamel layer on your teeth, and when your enamel is compromised, it can lead to increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks. It’s important to remember that there are other reasons for sensitivity, such as gum disease and receding gums, for example, but if you experience sensitivity in addition to other symptoms listed here, bruxism could be the cause.
  • Painful teeth – Just about everyone has a toothache every now and then, but if you experience consistent pain in several teeth throughout the course of your day, it could be because you’re clenching and/or grinding your teeth.
  • Making noise at night – You may not realize it, but grinding your teeth at night can create quite a racket. If your sleep partner complains about this kind of noise, chances are that you’re actively grinding your teeth while you sleep.
  • Loose, chipped, cracked and/or flattened teeth – It should come as no surprise that bruxism damages your teeth. The most common problems stemming from grinding and clenching include teeth that are flattened or worn down, teeth that develop small cracks and chips, and (in extreme cases) teeth that are loose.
  • Wounded cheek tissue – Unfortunately, it’s not just your teeth that suffer damage from bruxism; people who grind their teeth also often injure the soft tissue on the insides of their cheeks.

Why People Grind Their Teeth

There could be a variety of reasons why people grind their teeth. Although the most common cause appears to be stress, there could be other factors that play a role as well. Some researchers have found a genetic component of bruxism, which means that if other members of your family have been teeth grinders, you’re more likely to become one yourself. Sleep bruxism is considered to be a sleep disorder, and many people who grind their teeth while sleeping also suffer from conditions such as sleep apnea, for example. Bruxism is common in young children, most of whom outgrow it as they age. People who take medications such as anti-depressants appear to be more prone to teeth grinding, as well as people who smoke, drink alcohol and/or caffeinated beverages, and take recreational drugs. People with other health problems also appear to experience bruxism more than others, including those with dementia, epilepsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder, to name a few.

Bruxism Treatment Options

The most effective way to treat teeth grinding is by addressing the root cause of the problem. So your doctor or dentist may recommend any one of a wide variety of treatments, depending on your own specific situation. If you’re grinding your teeth due to stress, taking measures to alleviate that tension might help – such as meditation or yoga, for example. Changing your personal habits — such as refraining from smoking, alcohol and caffeine – may also help. To help reduce the damage to a patient’s teeth and gums due to bruxism, as well as to alleviate some of the most unpleasant symptoms associated with teeth grinding, a lot of dentists recommend wearing a mouth guard at night. Many patients have found that this not only reduces damage to teeth and gums, but also helps to reduce headaches, jaw pain, and sleep disruptions that are so common among people who grind their teeth. Although it’s possible to purchase one-size-fits-all mouth guards in many sporting goods stores, these products are typically not nearly as effectively as special devices designed specifically for you and custom made by your dentist.

If you or a member of your family suffers from bruxism, you should know that there are many treatment options available. The first step involves talking to your doctor or dentist to understand the possible underlying causes for the condition. Once you know why you’re grinding your teeth, your dentist can help to alleviate your bruxism symptoms with a specially designed mouth guard. To find out more about teeth grinding, contact your Cedar Park, Texas dentist’s office today and schedule an appointment.

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