Millions of people suffer from bruxism, or teeth grinding, many of them without even knowing it. But it’s very important to see a dentist if you’re one of them, because your teeth are not meant to be ground into each other every day and when they are, their lifespan diminishes rapidly. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we can help you undo the damage of teeth grinding with crowns or other restorations, or help you align your bite with braces or Invisalign to resolve bruxism altogether. And as bruxism is a dental problem commonly associated with stress, you’ll be happy to know that offering a relaxing treatment environment is one of the pillars of our practice. What Is Bruxism? Source: James Stahl Although bruxism is commonly used interchangeably with teeth grinding, it might surprise you to learn that experts have debated the exact definition of bruxism for years. A 2013 paper proposed a unified definition that was widely adopted: “a repetitive jaw-muscle activity characterised by clenching or grinding of the teeth and/or by bracing or thrusting of the mandible.” In 2018, another group of researchers suggested differentiating between sleep bruxism and awake bruxism, while pointing out that “bracing and thrusting” the mandible–the lower jawbone–can actually happen without teeth contacting each other. Still, when most dentists use the term bruxism, they’re referring to the grinding of the front six upper and lower teeth–the incisors and canines–on each other laterally. The person, who may be a child or an adult, may be grinding as the result of a disorder such as sleep apnea, or unknowingly despite being otherwise healthy. What Causes Bruxism? Again, it’s helpful to separate awake bruxism from sleep bruxism, as they’re typically caused by different factors. If you’re grinding your teeth while awake, it’s likely a result of the state of your thoughts and emotions, whether it’s stress, anxiety, frustration, or even overcompetitiveness. Sleep bruxism is generally caused by physical factors such as an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth, or a sleep disorder (although it can also be a result of daytime stress and anxiety). The unintentional chewing motion of teeth grinding has also been associated with arousals during sleep. Or if you have TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMJ), the misalignment of your jaw can stimulate your mouth to try to find a relaxed position, which in turn may result in teeth grinding. How Do You Know If You Grind Your Teeth? Check These Symptoms Much like snoring, it might take you a while to discover you’ve been grinding your teeth if you only do it when you’re asleep. You may even be doing it while awake without realizing it. In a checkup, a dentist can differentiate bruxism from other teeth wearing issues such as aggressive brushing. He’ll check for: Fractured, chipped teeth Flattened teeth Loose teeth In addition, the dentist is likely to diagnose you with bruxism if you report any of these symptoms you might have noticed: Difficulty chewing Poor sleep quality Heightened tooth sensitivity Recurrent dull headaches Tired or tight jaw muscles Jaw, face, or neck pain or soreness What Are the Long-term Effects of Bruxism? If left untreated, bruxism can wreak a fair bit of havoc in your mouth. It can severely damage your teeth to the point you need restorative dentistry, up to and including tooth replacement! If you already have dental restorations such as crowns or bridges, bruxism can damage those, too. It can even cause TMD or make it worse if you already suffer from it. If you catch it early enough, a loss of enamel may be the worst you experience from bruxism, but if left unchecked, this erosion of the protective outer layer of your teeth can lead to tooth sensitivity and a greater risk of fractures and tooth loss. Treatment Options for Bruxism There are several potential aspects of bruxism treatment, of which one or a combination may apply to you: First, any damage that’s been done may need a dentist’s intervention in the form of a restoration, whether bonding, placing a crown, or something else. If you’re grinding at night, you may need to be fitted for a night guard, which can actually deter you from grinding in your sleep. Get a custom night guard at Bunker Hill Dentistry – in just 2 simple visits. There are a number of bruxism-related jaw pain management therapies that may help, as well, such as radio wave therapy, low-level laser therapy, “trigger point” pain medication injections, and even ultrasound, which provides deep heat to the jaw. However, this is primarily treating the symptoms of teeth grinding. In some cases, you may need dental work to correct your bite. This may mean implants (to replace missing teeth), crowns, bridges, or braces to achieve proper teeth alignment and balance the biting surfaces. If your bruxism isn’t being caused by a physical issue, you may need to widen your approach beyond dentistry to the world of mental health. Meditation, stress management, exercise, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques may be the key to stopping your body from taking your emotions out on your teeth. A dentist consultation that includes questions about your lifestyle and daily routines, paired with digital x-rays, will help you assemble a treatment plan to follow. For young children, no intervention is usually needed, and even older kids may simply outgrow their bruxism. However, temporary crowns or a night guard may be necessary in some cases. Why Bunker Hill Dentistry? Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le Specialists – Trust our team’s holistic approach to getting not just the symptoms, but the causes of your grinding resolved. Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Take a tour. Client satisfaction – We have one mission – total client satisfaction. “Care, Comfort, Convenience” is our guarantee to every client. More about Bunker Hill Dentistry. Reception room at Bunker Hill Dentistry State of the art – We utilize the most advanced technology such as the i-CAT 3D x-ray machine, All-On-4® implants and an anesthesia-delivery wand, for faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Conveniently located – Located in Memorial, just a short drive from Houston’s city center. Find us on the map. Tips to Prevent You from Grinding Your Teeth Simply training yourself to be conscious about grinding will do wonders for awake bruxism, at least. Remember: teeth should never touch, except when swallowing. You can also help yourself by avoiding: alcohol caffeine chewing non-food items And finally, pressing a warm cloth against your jaw before bed can help your muscles relax and deter grinding when you should be sleeping peacefully. Schedule An Appointment Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? To help you prepare for your first visit, read our new patient information page.