Do you often feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed? Are you suffering from chronic headaches and jaw pain? These are warning signs that you may have a problem with bruxism.
If you’re grinding your teeth, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to help alleviate these symptoms and to protect your oral health now and in the future. Keep reading to learn why you’re grinding your teeth and how you can work with us to resolve the issue.
What is bruxism?
Grinding your teeth means you’re rubbing your upper and lower teeth together as though you’re chewing something. It’s possible you could be grinding your teeth and not even know it because you’re doing it subconsciously or even while you’re asleep.
Teeth grinding (bruxism) is commonly seen in conjunction with jaw clenching. Both can result in similar and related symptoms. Clenching your jaw muscles and grinding your teeth together is usually a subconscious reaction to stress and anxiety.
Effects of bruxism on your oral health
Over time, teeth grinding and jaw clenching can have a major impact on your oral and overall health and well-being. It can lead to:
- Damage to your teeth and jaw, including chips and cracks
- Weakened tooth enamel
- Gum recession
- Tension headaches
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Sleep disorders
Signs you might be grinding your teeth
Over time, grinding your teeth and/or clenching your jaw muscles will result in noticeable symptoms. It’s a good idea to know what to look out for because the best way to avoid more serious issues is to catch the problem early.
Here are a few signs and symptoms of bruxism:
- Sounds of grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep, which may be loud enough to wake up your partner
- Pain, soreness, or tightness in the jaw, neck, and face muscles
- Teeth that appear worn or flat at the bottom
- Tooth sensitivity or pain, especially if it begins increasing
- Fractured, chipped, or loose teeth
- A dull headache or earache
- Jaw tightness or a jaw that locks or won’t open and close
Why are you grinding your teeth?
Stress and anxiety are the leading cause of bruxism. Stress often manifests physical symptoms, causing your body to tense up – including your jaw muscles.
Over the last two years especially, many people have been feeling stressed and anxious. Surveys show a significant increase in the number of Americans reporting symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the same time period, bruxism has also become more common. We’ve seen:
- A 71% increase in bruxism
- A 63% increase in chipped and cracked teeth
- A 52% increase in instances of TMJ pain and soreness
That said, stress isn’t the only contributing factor. Teeth grinding can also be the result of the following: misaligned teeth, your age, family history, and/or certain medications.
How to stop grinding your teeth
Effective treatments for bruxism and jaw clenching exist. If you suspect you have a problem, schedule a visit as soon as possible and we’ll help you get to the bottom of it.
The first step is to diagnose the cause. We’ll help determine why you’re grinding your teeth in the first place – whether it’s stress-related or something else, like a misaligned bite. From there, we may recommend several treatment options to correct the effects of bruxism and help you stop grinding your teeth. The most common treatments include:
- Orthodontic treatment
- Relaxation therapies, including:
- Physical therapy
- Breathing exercises
- Regularly practicing yoga or meditation
- Jaw exercises and relaxation techniques
- Head, face, or neck massage
- Regular exercise
We can help you stop grinding your teeth
If you notice symptoms of bruxism or suspect you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep, contact us as soon as possible and make an appointment at either our Midtown Atlanta or Roswell location.
We will examine you to evaluate the overall health of your teeth and gums, give you professional guidance, and create an effective treatment plan just for you.