Even though most of us do all we can to avoid it, stress can have a physical effect on our bodies. A lot of the tension caused by stress manifests in our face, neck and jaws, which causes many people to start grinding their teeth while they sleep at night.
A condition clinically referred to as bruxism, between 10 to 20 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from night grinding, according to a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University.
At City Dental, Portland cosmetic dentist Dr. Jason Bajuscak has seen firsthand what this condition can do to his patients’ oral health. To help you understand the risk you may face from night grinding, here’s what you should know about bruxism.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding can be the symptom of a variety of problems, including stress, mal-aligned jaw and the use of certain types of medication. Since night grinding occurs while you’re asleep, it can be difficult for those who sleep alone to know they have a problem. However, if you typically wake up each morning feeling a dull headache or intense jaw pain, you’re probably grinding your teeth at night.
What Damage Can Teeth Grinding Cause?
With such a high percentage of adults suffering from nighttime teeth grinding, it’s not uncommon for Portland cosmetic dentist Dr. Bajuscak to see the damaging effects teeth grinding has on an individual’s oral health. Constantly grinding teeth at night puts excessive pressure on your teeth’s enamel that can cause cracks to develop that exposes the delicate inner root of a tooth to harmful bacteria.
Grinding your teeth at night may also cause inflammation in the muscles surrounding your jaw and joints. Inflammation in these areas can lead to a condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), a chronic disorder that causes intense jaw discomfort. However, it should be noted that TMJ doesn’t cause people to teeth grind, but a link has been found between the pain caused by TMJ and with patients who grind at night.
How to Stop Teeth Grinding?
In order for patients to stop teeth grinding at night, treatment often depends on what causes the night grinding. If the condition is brought on by stress, patients may need to focus more on how to better handle stress through management techniques like yoga, meditation or exercise. Diet, such as too much caffeine or alcohol consumption before bedtime, may need to change in order to reduce the presence of grinding triggers in the body.
Patients may also consider scheduling more frequent visits with Dr. Bajuscak and his staff at City Dental. A quick TMJ exam and provide Dr. Bajuscak with the information needed to make a teeth grinding diagnosis. Dr. Bajuscak can also fit patients with a custom mouth guard that will prevent you from grinding your teeth at night by helping to relax your jaw muscles.