Because teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) often occurs during sleep, many people are completely unaware of their nighttime tendency. However, there are some common symptoms that will indicate if you grind your teeth at night. Bruxism can potentially lead to serious problems. Therefore, it is important to recognize if you grind your teeth. If you think you are a nighttime teeth grinder, there are helpful ways to prevent additional problems from occurring.
- Constant dull headache
- Sore jaws
- Fractured or loose teeth
- Popping or cracking sounds when chewing
- Locking of the jaw
- Ear aches
Serious oral complications with bruxism:
- Tooth loss
- Hearing loss
- TMD/TMJ Disorders
Treatment of TMJ Disorder Caused By Bruxism
Patients may initially seek treatment for TMJ through a general dentist and attempt to manage the symptoms through conservative measures such as medications, exercises and stress management. However, when the condition does not respond to less invasive measures, the patient may need to consult with an oral surgeon to explore other options.
In cases when damage to the jaw or a degenerative condition is creating the conditions responsible for the TMJ disorder, an oral surgeon may be able to repair that damage. Misaligned jaws can contribute to TMJ disorders, as well, and this problem too may be corrected surgically, potentially in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.
Even when surgery is necessary to address a TMJ disorder, the procedure doesn’t necessarily have to result in highly visible scars. The surgeon may be able to locate the incisions in areas that can be readily concealed, such as directly in front of the ear.
Your surgeon will also discuss sedation and anesthesia options with you to ensure your maximum comfort during the procedure. The surgeon will give you detailed preoperative and post-operative instructions, as well. Following these directions may minimize your risk of complications during or after the procedure.
How to Prevent Bruxism
Avoid alcohol. Consuming alcohol can increase the likelihood of teeth grinding.
Avoid caffeine. Much like alcohol, consuming caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, energy drinks and sodas can contribute to bruxism.
Mouthguard. If you think you grind your teeth at night, your dentist can inspect your mouth for signs of bruxism. If your dentist deems necessary, a personalized sleep mouthguard may be recommended to prevent bruxism complications.
Stress therapy. A person’s tendency to grind their teeth at night is often associated with stress. Stress therapy may help a person to reduce stress levels and nighttime bruxism.
Avoid chewing gum. Chewing gum during the day can train your jaw muscles to clench, and you might be more likely to continue this behavior at night.
Relax jaw muscles. By relaxing jaw muscles before bed, you can help to prevent your muscles from clenching at night. Hold a warm washcloth or water bottle in front of the earlobe against your cheek before you go to sleep.
If you have any questions about nighttime teeth grinding, or you believe you are suffering from complications of bruxism like TMD/TMJ Disorder, do not hesitate to contact our office. The team at Austin Oral Surgery is dedicated to providing our patients with personalized care, and we want to know how we can help you.