More commonly known as teeth grinding, bruxism is the unintentional grinding or clenching of teeth that may cause facial pain. This can happen while a person is awake or even while sleeping. Bruxism is very common and affects 30 to 40 million people in the United States.
Signs and Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
The following may indicate that you have a bruxism problem:
- Painful or tight jaw muscles
- Enduring facial pain
- Lower jaw swelling
- Rhythmic contractions of jaw muscles
- Grinding sounds while sleeping
Causes of Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding can be caused by a number of things, including:
- Stress or anxiety
- Anger or frustration
- Sleep apnea or other sleep disorders
- Misaligned teeth
- Medical disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
- Trauma due to an accident
The action of grinding your teeth wears down the enamel and causes constant discomfort and pain, and headaches, and can also fracture teeth. Teeth grinding can also cause gum recession, exposing more of the tooth and causing pockets or gaps between the tooth and gums.
How to Fix Teeth Grinding
If you experience bruxism, it is important to seek professional help quickly, as it can cause damage to the teeth and gums. A common treatment for bruxism is a mouth guard, which can help to stop teeth grinding during sleep. If the cause is stress, you might try stress counseling, yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises. As some bruxism is caused by misaligned teeth, sometimes orthodontic or other jaw aligning procedures can alleviate the problem.