Millions of people suffer the effects of bruxism, which is the involuntary grinding and or clenching of the teeth at night. There are many reasons why you may brux your teeth. Getting to the bottom of the causes and designing a course of treatment for bruxism sufferers is a large part of what I do daily in my practice.
Since it happens at night, you may not be aware that you are grinding! However, if you consistently wake up with an aching jaw or a morning headache, there’s a good chance that you are bruxing in your sleep.
So, why is this a problem?
Because the long-term effects of bruxism can be serious:
1. A Change In Your Profile: If you are noticing that your jaw is becoming more “square” it may be a result of bruxism. As you grind, your masseter muscles can get more and more bulky. This may not bother a man, but for women, it is very concerning.
2. Sore and Worn Teeth: Bruxism can destroy your teeth! Not only can it wear them down, some people rip right through the enamel. Once enamel is compromised, the underlying dentin wears at a rate 6x faster than enamel. This affects your bite, your appearance, and even your health.
3. Jaw Pain: Some people experience jaw pain and soreness, especially in the morning. However, this pain can also linger through the day and even keep you from opening and closing your mouth without discomfort. Many individuals have daily ongoing pain in their face and jaw as a result of the nightly grind.
4. TMJ noises: Other consequences of bruxism may be the onset of jaw joint clicking as a result of strained ligaments and a dry joint environment that results from compression of the TMJs. Clenching, in particular, can squeeze all the moisture out of these joints leading to noisy, painful situations, and sometimes even locakjaw.
5. Headaches: Morning headaches in the temples are common in people who brux. As the temporal muscles fatigue during bruxism, lactic acid builds up which irritates the nerves in the muscle and the result can be a headache. In patients who suffer from migraines, this is a particularly troublesome situation, as it can trigger a more severe situation.
If you are experiencing any of the above, there’s a good chance you are bruxing. The long-term effects of bruxism can impact your life. See your dentist for advice. If you have been treated by a dentist, and are still suffering, now’s the time to seek out the help of a dentist with extensive training in this field.
Dr. Donald Tanenbaum is a specialist with offices in New York City and Long Island, NY. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat facial pain associated with jaw problems, TMJ, referred pain, nerve pain, and migraines. Find out more at www.tanenbaumtmj.com.