Bruxism — The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Night mouth guards

Bruxism — the technical term for teeth grinding — is one of the most common dental health problems in the U.S. today, affecting an estimated 40 million Americans suffer from this problem, but it’s estimated that a large number of people — possibly about 20% of all sufferers — aren’t even aware that they’re dealing with bruxism. So, here are just a few important points about the causes of bruxism, the most common signs and symptoms you’ll be experiencing, and the bruxism treatment options that are available today.

The Causes:

The most common cause of teeth grinding is stress, plain and simple. Other causes — or factors that might put you at more of a risk of developing bruxism — are related to certain medications and existing sleep and/or breathing disorders.

The Signs:

Diagnosing bruxism can be difficult, simply because it’s a habit that most people develop subconsciously (or entirely unconsciously, during their sleep). If you suspect that you’re grinding your teeth (either during the day or at night), a dental hygiene specialist will be able to diagnose the problem by looking at your teeth and piecing together other physical issues you’re experiencing.

The most common signs of teeth grinding are jaw pain, headaches, earaches, sensitive teeth and gums, and brittle teeth that break off or chip easily. You may also find that you’re not rested when you wake in the morning, or that you’re starting to develop severe gum disease or multiple cavities. Because grinding your teeth can actually cause tooth enamel to wear off, dental decay is more likely to occur.

The Treatments:

Luckily, there are a few different bruxism treatment options available today and they’re generally extremely effective, without costing too much. First, if you think that your bruxism is related to stress or anxiety, a good first step would be to address that issue — talking with a therapist or taking a stress-management class are two options that medical professionals often advise when someone is feeling overly-stressed.

And lastly, getting fitted for a custom mouthguard is one of the most cost-effective options that provides immediate relief. These mouthguards are made of flexible plastic materials and are fitted to your teeth and gums, discouraging your jaw from clenching at night and not allowing your teeth to grind together.

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