What is Bruxism and How Does It Affect Oral Health

Nov 9 • 2 minute read

What is Bruxism and How Does It Affect Oral Health

If you have ever woken up in the morning with a jaw so sore that it was difficult to even open your mouth, it could be a telltale sign of bruxism, also commonly known as teeth clenching or grinding. This condition involves the individual grinding unconsciously while sleeping or throughout the day.

Although mild bruxism may not require treatment, there is always room for developing complications such as jaw (TMJ) disorders, headaches, worn or damaged teeth, and other associated problems that can significantly impact both oral health and quality of life. 

Because you may have some form of bruxism and be unaware of it until problems develop, it is essential to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and from there seek professional treatment.

Signs You May Have Bruxism

Symptoms of Bruxism may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won't open or close completely
  • Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness
  • Pain that feels like an earache, though it is not a problem with your ear
  • A dull headache starting in the temples
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
  • Sleep disturbance

Why Bruxism is So Damaging

When you clench your teeth during slumber, your conscious or rational thinking, has no control over the process. Therefore, the force your jaw experiences is three to ten times greater than during routine chewing. When you are eating, part of the strength of chewing is buffered by food, but with involuntary bruxism, your teeth receive the entire force of your jaws. 

Catching bruxism early on is vital because frequent grinding can remove some of the protectant enamel from your teeth and, in more complex cases, expose the underlying layer of dentin. This can lead to sensitivity and increased risk of tooth decay. Other consequences from heavy grinding are flattened cusps and fractured teeth or fillings.

Temporomandibular joint disorder, or (TMD), is another possible outcome of bruxism that early treatment can help prevent. Signs of TMD include chronic pain or soreness in the joint area, clicking or popping sounds when chewing and difficulty opening your mouth.

Seeking Treatment

Your trusted dental professional can be an initial discoverer of untreated bruxism by simply examining your teeth; however, it is important to get to the root of the cause before recommending accurate treatment, and your dentist will surely know this. Factors such as stress, anxiety, acid reflux, sleep apnea, and even a side effect form certain medications can all be leading contributors to bruxism. 

If your teeth are severely worn down or fractured, or you have broken fillings, your dentist may need to restore them with new fillings or crowns. To prevent further wear to your teeth, they will most likely recommend wearing a splint or a mouth guard at night. This separates your teeth so that they are not damaged by grinding or clenching.

Even though teeth clenching, and grinding are not life-threatening, many of the outcomes can be difficult to live with. If you or a loved one suspect that bruxism may be affecting your smile, Dr. Hsiao Chen of Stamford Downtown Dental can help. Contact our skilled team to schedule your comprehensive consultation today! 

Recent Articles

Does Pacifier Use Affect a Baby’s Dental Development?

Pacifier use and thumb sucking are heavily ingrained in our culture, and in most cultures around the ...

Restoring Gum Health

Gum disease is a common problem that can occur very gradually. Aging, brushing too hard, genetics, a ...

#gumdisease#treatment#oral health#gum health#periodontal treatment
What Is Laser Dentistry?

Laser dentistry is a fairly new dental field that offers more comfortable treatment options for many ...

#oral health#laser dentistry

Send Us A Message

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.