Protect Your Teeth: How to Prevent Clenching and Grinding

Woman teethDo you frequently wake up with neck pain, jaw pain, ear pain, and headaches? Have you started to notice more tooth sensitivity lately? Do your teeth feel loose? And upon inspection, does it appear as though some of your teeth are wearing, cracking, and chipping for no apparent reason? While such symptoms could herald any number of oral health issues, the more likely explanation is that you suffer from bruxism, and condition characterized by grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw, particularly during sleep (although in some cases it can occur while you are awake). It is still unknown what causes bruxism, although it is thought to be strongly related to stress (genetic factors, medications, and other medical conditions may also play a role). But what is known is that as much as a third of the population suffers from this disorder at one time or another. And aside from the annoyance of waking up with a headache or an aching jaw, a failure to treat it can result in serious dental problems. So you’ll certainly want to protect your teeth.

The first thing you should do if you think your symptoms might be linked to bruxism is schedule an appointment with your dentist. By looking at the physical appearance of your teeth and examining your x-rays, your dentist should be able to tell you if you’re clenching and grinding. It is important to get a diagnosis as early as possible since steps can be taken to avoid further damage to your teeth. And while understanding the symptoms can definitely give you some indication as to your condition, the clincher, so to speak, could be your partner noting the awful noises you make while you sleep. If you’ve never heard the sound of someone grinding their teeth, you might be surprised by the volume of it. And the fact that it sounds like nails on a chalkboard is enough to wake anyone from a dead sleep.

dental-So what can you do to prevent or treat this condition before it ruins your teeth? There are a couple of potential solutions. If you clench or grind your teeth while awake, the best thing you can do is try to be aware of it so that you can relax your jaw. And whether you experience bruxism during wakefulness or while asleep, it might not be a bad idea to engage in some type of stress reduction, whether you join a meditation class, start jogging or swimming regularly, go for frequent massages, or rethink your lifestyle and the level of stress you’re experiencing. However, you might also need some kind of medical intervention to solve your problem.

If you value your dental health, you’re probably going to have to submit to wearing some kind of device overnight. The most common and popular treatment for bruxism, whether you clench, grind, or both, is a mouth guard. This molded, plastic device is custom made to fit your bite and it may be worn on the top teeth, the bottom teeth, or both, depending on your mouth and what your dentist recommends for your particular problem. You can also opt for a splint, but this treatment has fallen out of fashion to a degree because it simply doesn’t tend to work as well as mouth guards. If these Band-Aids don’t work, orthodontic adjustments may help, and surgery is also an option if all else fails. But this should be a last resort. The first step is to set up an appointment at a reputable office like Embassy Dental or your preferred local dental facility. Professional help is often required to deal with bruxism and you want to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary damage to your teeth.