Sounds like you may be bruxing! Bruxism is characterized by grinding of the teeth and typically includes clenching of the jaw. Most bruxers grind at night time and this is when the majority of the health issues occur.
Q? Why am I grinding?
A. Possible triggers to tooth grinding in adults are anxiety, stress or tension, trauma to a period of unusual stress, suppressed anger or frustration, aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type, abnormal occlusion/bite, and other sleep problems.
Q? Do I grind my teeth at night? How do I know if I am grinding?
A. Most people who grind at night are not aware of their habits unless someone around them happens to be awake while the grinding occurs. Your dentist is a valuable source and can show you any signs of grinding that you may have.
Q? What are some symptoms of tooth grinding?
A. Some common symtoms of tooth grinding are teeth that are worn down, flattened, fractured or chipped, worn tooh enamel, increased tooth sensitivity, gum recession, jaw pain/tightness, headaches, facial/neck pain, and earaches.
Q? What are the consequences to tooth grinding?
A. Bruxism can result in occlusal trauma (the abnormal wear patterns on the biting surfaces of the teeth), abfraction lesions (loss of tooth structure from flexural forces) and fractures in the teeth/ existing fillings. Over time, dental damage increases. Bruxism is the leading cause of occlusal trauma and a significant cause of tooth loss and gum recession. Some patients may develop temporomandibular joint disorders. Tooth grinding can also contributing to exisitng periodontal disease and make bone loss worse.
Q? What can I do to stop my grinding?
A. Unfortunatley, once someone starts the habit of grinding their teeth at night, they will continue to grind. Stress reduction is key: exercising, yoga/ meditation, listening to relaxing music, taking baths, etc.
Getting fitted for a dental nightguard protects your teeth from further damage. Nightguards made by dentists are custom fitted to fit your teeth and positions your lower jaw in a more relaxed state, preventing you from grinding and reducing any muscle strain.
Dental nightguards are relatively thin, light and are very comfortable to wear. Please come visit us if you have any questions.
Sylvia Koo, DMD
West Somerville Dental