effective bruxism treatment for a healthier smile

Do you sometimes wake up to tension headaches, a sore or stiff jaw, or teeth sensitivity? Do you often feel tired even after getting a full eight hours of sleep? If these symptoms sound familiar, you could be suffering from bruxism.

What is bruxism? It is a clinical term used to describe unknowingly grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. Most often, it occurs involuntarily during the night while sleeping.

Common causes of bruxism include stress, bite disorders, and sleep apnea.

The force applied when you grind your teeth causes irreversible enamel wear. This weakens teeth and makes them susceptible to more serious damage, such as fractures and decay. Jaw clenching can lead to TMJ disorders, which can lead to more problems.

Your Denver dentists at Metropolitan Dental Care are experienced and equipped to treat bruxism. If needed, they can fit you with a custom-made dental mouthguard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

what causes teeth grinding and clenching?

Poorly managed stress and anxiety can have several negative effects on your body. Sometimes it can be hard to “shut off” the day when you are trying to go to sleep. But when stress, worry, and anxiety from the day spill over into your sleep cycle, you may experience bruxism.

Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw can lead to several problems. Most commonly, bruxism occurs at night, and it can affect your quality of sleep. It can also negatively affect your health and wellbeing the next day. For instance, many patients with bruxism wake up with headaches, teeth sensitivity, and jaw pain.

Bruxism can also weaken, wear down, and damage your teeth. This may lead to the need for restorative dentistry, such as dental crowns.

Patients prone to bruxism may also experience grinding or clenching during the day. Usually, this occurs unknowingly during times of stress, anxiety, anger, or frustration.

Sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, can also cause bruxism. Another common cause is an improper or misaligned bite.

Bruxism is common, affecting nearly 10 percent of people. While both males and females are affected equally, patients who have a family history of nighttime teeth grinding or clenching are at an increased risk.

Sleep disorders, such as obstructieve sleep apnea, can also cause bruxism. Another common cause is an improper or misaligned bite.

Bruxism is common, affecting nearly 10 percent of people. While both males and females are affected equally, patients who have a family history of nighttime teeth grinding or clenching are at an increased risk.

what are the side effects of bruxism?

Sometimes, bruxism can go undetected until your dentist notices weakened, damaged, or worn teeth. However, other patients experience painful or frustrating side effects which lead to a bruxism diagnosis.

Side effects may include:

  • Jaw pain, such as a sore, tight, or stiff jaw in the morning or throughout the day
  • Facial muscle fatigue, often described as a “tired” feeling in the face and jaw
  • Interrupted sleep, with frequent waking at night
  • Waking a bed partner with your grinding or clenching
  • Facial swelling and tenderness
  • Tooth pain, or sore, sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth resulting in dental misalignment or tooth loss
  • Fractured teeth
  • Damaged fillings
  • Frequent headaches, most commonly tension-style headaches that may radiate down to the neck or shoulders
  • Gum tenderness and oral irritation
  • Gum recession
  • TMJ disorder
  • Popping or clicking in the jaw
  • Tight jaw muscles, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
  • Neck stiffness or pain from tensed muscles during sleep

could my child have bruxism?

It is common for children to suffer from bruxism at some point. Estimates show that anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of children suffer from occasional bruxism. The grinding and clenching usually occur during deep sleep.

Many dentists believe most children who grind their teeth do so because of misaligned teeth or an improper bite. Other dentists believe bruxism in children is related to a subconscious desire to ease tooth or jaw pain. Most dentists, however, agree that some children grind and clench as a reaction to stress or anxiety.

Most children outgrow bruxism. However, if it continues into adolescent years, you should have them evaluated by a dentist familiar with bruxism.

bruxism treatment options

The first step in treating bruxism involves meeting with one of our compassionate and experienced Denver dentists.

At your consultation, your dentist will review your symptoms and perform a full examination of your teeth, gums, and jawbone. The exam includes diagnostic testing with advanced technology that allows for the most precise diagnoses. This allows your dentist to make recommendations regarding the best treatment solution for your needs.

Patients who suffer from stress and anxiety may benefit from making certain lifestyle adjustments, such as:

Reducing caffeine intake. Bruxism patients should eliminate caffeine or restrict it to one beverage per day. You should also make it a point to not consume caffeine during the latter part of the day. For patients with anxiety, limiting caffeine can also help to reduce anxious feelings or stress.

Eating a healthy, nutritional diet. Avoiding high-sugar or carbohydrate-heavy foods in the evening can help you achieve more restful sleep.

Exercising regularly. Not only can exercise help you sleep more soundly, but it also releases endorphins to help you achieve more healthy stress levels.

Getting more sleep. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Avoiding gum. Chewing gum can overwork and strain jaw muscles. If you already suffer from bruxism, give your jaw a rest in between meals by avoiding mindless chewing.

Implementing yoga or meditation practices. If stress is fueling your bruxism habits, implementing more mindfulness before bedtime can help clear the mind before sleep. By eliminating some stress before bedtime, you can improve your body’s ability to relax fully during sleep.

Taking anti-anxiety medications or supplements. There are some over-the-counter supplements that can help with stress and anxiety. However, if you suffer from high levels of anxiety or stress which make it difficult to cope with daily life, you may need help from a professional. This may include seeing a counselor for therapy to help improve your quality of life. In more severe cases, patients may need prescription anti-anxiety medication.

Teeth in the back of the jaw (molars) are most susceptible to damage during grinding. For teeth that have been cracked or chipped due to grinding and clenching, restorative dentistry may be needed. This could include a dental crown or dental bonding to strengthen and protect them from further damage.

A custom-made dental mouth guard may also be recommended. If severe bruxism is not prevented through an oral appliance, the force can crack, damage, or wear down teeth and restorative work. Mouthguards fit comfortably over your top and bottom teeth to prevent teeth from grinding during the night while you sleep.

If a bite disorder is the cause of your bruxism, the dentist may first recommend orthodontics to straighten your jaw. Depending on your circumstances, this could include Invisalign® or traditional braces.

For patients with a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, additional treatment measures may be needed. Some patients benefit from an oral appliance, which helps maintain an open airway while sleeping. Some patients, however, may need a referral to a certified sleep physician.

contact us

If bruxism is having an adverse effect on you or your child, we strongly encourage you to seek treatment immediately. Our dentists at Metropolitan Dental Care are experienced and equipped to treat bruxism. They can also take care of any restorative dental needs.

 Don’t let the tooth pain, jaw soreness, or headaches go untreated. Contact us online or call us today at (303) 534-2626 to schedule an appointment at our downtown Denver office. We look forward to helping you sleep better.