Do you wake up with an aching jaw and feel that you have enjoyed less than a perfect night's sleep? If so, it is time to go to the dentist. You may have developed a condition called bruxism. Don't worry - bruxism is not a disease. It is a condition that is treatable by a dentist. Let's explore bruxism a little bit further without getting too technical.
What Is Bruxism?
It is a condition where you gnash, grind or clench your jaw without knowing you are doing so. Not everybody who has developed the condition grinds their teeth while they sleep. For some reason, they may even grind or clench their jaw during the day when they are awake.
The odd clenched jaw moment does not mean you have bruxism. You are only diagnosed with the condition when you do so on a regular or long-term basis. Bruxism does not only damage your teeth. In the long term, it leads to severe headaches, pain and tension in the neck. If you only experience the condition when you sleep, you have sleep bruxism.
Sleep bruxism is associated with other health conditions including snoring and sleep apnea. If you do suspect that you suffer from bruxism, it is important that you contact a dentist as soon as possible.
What Causes Bruxism?
Scientists are not sure what causes bruxism. As with so many other medical conditions, a wide variety of factors play a role. Stress is thought to be a contributing factor.
When you experience stress you are much more likely to grind your teeth. As you have probably noticed, you clench your jaw when you are angry or anxious. Young people and children that suffer from ADHD or hyperactivity often develop bruxism. Other factors that may also increase the risk of you developing bruxism include drinking too much alcohol and smoking.
How Can I Tell If I Grind My Teeth?
You really do need to get a proper medical diagnosis. However, the below list gives you an idea of signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Sleeping problems
- Clenched teeth or jaw in the morning
- Excessive snoring
- Pain in the jaw
- Tension up towards the cheekbones and maybe blurred vision in the morning.
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Broken skin from chewing action during the night.
As grinding your teeth affects your oral health including the condition of your teeth and gums, it is essential that you visit a dentist as soon as possible. When bruxism or teeth grinding go untreated, the result can lead to broken teeth and even loose teeth. There is a range of dental treatments for bruxism. The condition is fairly common. Don't be embarrassed to talk to your dentist about it.