Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth together during the day, or clench or grind them at night.
When you grind or clench your teeth in your sleep, your brain has no control over the process – therefore, the force your jaws exert could be three to ten times greater than during regular chewing. With sleep bruxism, your teeth receive the entire force of your jaws, which over time, can cause many dental problems.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress and anxiety are common causes – and if you already have a grinding habit, any increased stress in your life will cause it to worsen. Bruxism can also be the side effects of some medications and sleep apnea.
Signs of grinding and clenching are headaches, jaw and facial muscle pain/ tightness, especially in the morning; sore and tender teeth while chewing ; inability to open mouth wide, and pain that radiates to your ear. Occasionally, facial swelling can happen on the lower jaw. You may also notice that your teeth are sensitive from receding gum line and exposed dental root surface, and teeth are beginning to wear down, or that they are chipped, cracked or starting to feel loose. The inside of your cheek may be damaged from chewing or biting it, and your tongue may also have indentations.
Your dentist at Evergreen Dental Group can fit you with a custom made night guard to protect your teeth from further damage of Bruxism during sleep. In some cases, your dentist also may recommend taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime. Meditation, counseling and exercise can all help reduce stress and anxiety.