Do you frequently wake up with a headache, or pain throughout your jaw? You might think you simply need more sleep, but the problem could actually be related to a dental issue. Bruxism is the term used to describe the subconscious act of teeth grinding that often occurs as people sleep. It’s a habit that can be difficult to diagnose, since it does occur primarily as one sleeps, and it is one that can also be incredibly bad for the teeth. The good news is that if you might be suffering from bruxism, your dentist may be able to provide help. Often, the use of an oral appliance can help cut down on teeth grinding, allowing patients to sleep far more comfortably and soundly.
What Causes Bruxism?
In some cases, bruxism can be caused by TMD, the abbreviation for Temporomandibular Disorder. This is a condition that is often referred to as TMJ. Other times, TMD can actually be the cause of bruxism. Either way, there are a number of factors that can cause one of both of these conditions, including arthritis, misaligned teeth (such as an overbite or underbite), or trauma or some other injury to the jaw.
Over time, the symptoms of TMD can include sensitive teeth, pain while trying to open the jaw or during chewing, tenderness throughout the jaw muscles and the facial muscles as well, clicking of the ears, noticeably worn teeth (you may see the layer beneath your enamel showing through), or sores on the side of the mouth.
Fortunately, treatment for bruxism is often quite simple. In many cases, the use of a custom oral appliance (similar to a mouthguard) can help keep the teeth in a proper and comfortable alignment during the night. This can prevent grinding, in many cases.
In some cases, the dentist may also recommend orthodontic treatment, to help the teeth rest in a better alignment.