According to data from the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, bruxism affects nearly 40 million adults and children. That’s a pretty big number, but, you may be asking, just what is bruxism? It sounds pretty scary, and it can bring with it some pretty serious oral health risks, but it is simply the technical term for grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth.
Bruxism most often occurs at night while you’re asleep, and can potentially lead to uneven wear on your teeth, fracturing, tooth loss, trouble with your gums, and even joint disorders of the jaw such as TMJ and TMD. After all, grinding or clenching your teeth can produce up to 180 pounds per square inch of force. Teeth are pretty tough, but that much pressure can crack a nut—or a tooth! Fortunately, if you’re suffering from bruxism, your Overland Park dentist can probably help!
So, if bruxism happens mostly while you’re asleep, what causes it, and how can you know if you have it? One of the most common symptoms that can alert you to the fact that you’re grinding or clenching your teeth at night is if you wake up with a headache or a sore jaw. As for the causes, daily stress and anxiety are among the most common culprits, though some sleep disorders may also lead to bruxism.
If you suspect that you or a family member may be grinding or clenching their teeth, the first thing to do is to talk to your Overland Park dentist about your options. Mild bruxism that occurs during the day may not even require special treatment; rather, you might simply have to learn to be more aware of when you’re clenching your teeth and take precautions against it. For more severe cases, especially those occurring at night, bite guards are often a helpful solution. These are typically custom-made using a cast of your own teeth so that they fit comfortably in your mouth while you sleep.
Even if you take steps to treat the immediate problem, it’s also a good idea to undertake some healthy lifestyle changes that might reduce your chances of grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth, especially at night. These may include taking steps to reduce stress and anxiety in your day-to-day life, or introducing more healthy habits to help you cope with the stress that you can’t alleviate. There are also steps that your Overland Park dentist can take to help ensure that you experience more healthy, natural sleep, which is itself a good tonic for stress and may help to alleviate bruxism and its various effects.
Whatever solution is right for you, if you think that you or a family member might be suffering from bruxism, the first step is contacting your Overland Park dentist! We’ll be happy to help you find a solution that’ll reduce your stress and help protect your teeth. Just call (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment today!