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Do you frequently wake up in the morning with a sore jaw that persists through most of the day? If so, you may be clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth at night. What’s more, it may be happening without you even realizing it.
Teeth-grinding is a common, involuntary habit, but it’s unhealthy and can be the cause of future dental problems. If you think you’re grinding your teeth at night, you might want to learn a little more about why you’re doing it and how you can fix the problem. Luckily, your Overland Park dentist has the answers.
What’s happening: You’re biting down hard or grinding your teeth in your sleep. There’s even a technical name for it: bruxism. That’s the simple part. As to why it’s happening, involuntary clenching and grinding can often be caused by daytime stress or anxiety. Sleep problems such as obstructive sleep apnea or loud snoring as well as the use of alcohol, caffeine, or certain drugs can also exacerbate the problem, as can missing or crooked teeth or an otherwise abnormal bite. If you’re experiencing any of these conditions, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist.
Why it’s harmful: Chronic grinding or clenching can lead to excess wear on your teeth, which can, in turn, result in chipped or fractured teeth, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. By the time a dentist catches the problem, it’s usually because it has become severe enough that it has begun to wear away the enamel on your teeth, which may require repairs such as fillings, crowns, or bridges.
What to look for: The good news is that you can often catch bruxism before it becomes serious enough to cause major damage. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as morning headaches, clicking or popping of jaw joints, sore gums, sensitive teeth, chipped or cracked teeth, damaged dental work, sore jaw or facial muscles, and even pain in your ears!
What you should do next: If you’re concerned about clenching or grinding your teeth, the first thing you should do is talk to your friendly Overland Park dentist and ask about help with grinding or clenching at night. Early treatment is important to avoid significant dental complications. Your family dentist is already familiar with your dental history and needs, so we can suggest the solution that’s best for you.
Solutions for bruxism vary, but they include oral appliances such as mouthguards that can be worn at night to prevent damage to teeth, or a few diet and lifestyle changes that can help stop the clenching and grinding before it starts.
Whatever solution is right for you, your Overland Park family dentist can help you to not only find it, but to integrate it seamlessly into your life and your regular dental care regimen. If you or a loved one are concerned about teeth grinding or clenching, call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 today to schedule an appointment or for more information. We can answer any questions you may have about bruxism and how to treat it.