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What Is Bruxism and How Is It Treated?

A woman rubbing her cheek, implying sore teeth and jaw

When you deal with stress, you might find that you grind your teeth. The clinical term for this condition is bruxism. It often causes pain in your teeth but also causes muscle pain along your jaw and increases your risk of suffering from TMJ.

While many people experience this problem at night as they sleep, you can also grind your teeth during the day.

At Clay & Associates DDS, PLC, you'll get help with your bruxism and learn how to treat it.

Bruxism Types

There are two types of bruxism. Awake bruxism occurs during the day when you are alert and active. Many people notice that they grind their teeth when dealing with stress and focus on a complex task. With awake bruxism, you learn how to stop yourself from grinding your teeth and look for warning signs that you might stop. The other type is sleep bruxism, which is harder to treat because you're asleep when it happens and cannot control. Your teeth use a maximum of 250 pounds of pressure when you grind your teeth, which can lead to some long-term problems.

Signs of Bruxism

Looking at the signs of bruxism can help you talk with Clay & Associates DDS, PLC about the symptoms you experience during your appointment. You may not notice that you grind your teeth, which is why you should look for signs such as abrasions or chips in your teeth and pain in different spots around your face.

Teeth that become sensitive can also relate to this condition because the grinding motion will weaken your teeth. You may notice that your jaw and facial muscles feel tense or that you suffer from frequent headaches. Extreme bruxism can leave your dentin exposed as your enamel wears away and cause your jaw to lock in place or dislocate.

How to Treat Bruxism

A dentist looking at a mouth X-ray.

There are different ways to treat bruxism, but the best method depends on what type you experience and your overall symptoms. One option is a nightguard. A nightguard is an orthodontic device designed to fit over your teeth. You'll wear this all night as you sleep.

Nightguards are similar to retainers and require multiple appointments to ensure the guard fits your mouth. The biggest problem with a nightguard is that it won't stop you from grinding while it protects your teeth.

Certain medications can help, especially muscle relaxers. You take one pill per day to relax your muscles, keeping you from grinding your teeth. Doctors usually recommend that you only use muscle relaxers for short-term relief and not take them for a long time.

If you have depression and take medication for the condition, talk to your doctor about switching to a different drug as bruxism is a common side effect of some antidepressants. Your doctor will help you wean your way off the medication to avoid the side effects of stopping cold turkey.

One of the unique remedies for bruxism is botox injections. Though the Federal Food and Drug Administration does not approve the use of botox for bruxism, some found that it offered them relief because the injection froze the muscles in their face.

You may also get an injection around your jaw, which will freeze the muscles you use to grind your teeth. Most insurance plans will not cover botox for this reason and require that you pay for the procedure out of your pocket.

Behavioral treatments are also popular today. A therapist can help you learn how to manage the stress you experience that causes you to grind your teeth. Biofeedback machines may also help.

With a biofeedback machine, you get into a comfortable position and undergo a procedure that stretches and relaxes your neck and jaw muscles. You'll learn how to stay calm and manage stress during your sessions. Some patients noticed changes within a few biofeedback sessions.

Why Should You Stop Grinding Your Teeth?

Whether you spent years grinding your teeth or only recently started, you might deal with your bruxism and avoid talking to a doctor about it. At Clay & Associates DDS, PLC, we understand that you have concerns and worries, but we want you to know some serious complications associated with bruxism.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people developed dental problems, and no one would blame them. They worried about losing their homes or getting evicted and losing their jobs. We want you to feel comfortable coming to us for your dental needs and getting help with your bruxism no matter what dental procedures you need.

Bruxism and TMJ often go hand in hand. TMJ relates to the joint of the same name in your jaw and causes headaches and jaw pain. It also causes your jaw to pop as you talk and chew.

Even if you don't develop TMJ, you might grind your teeth so much that you need implants or other procedures to save your teeth. Bruxism also changes the alignment of your teeth, which affects the way you breathe as you sleep and can lead to acid reflux or GERD. Many people also find that grinding their teeth affects their partners who share their beds.

Treat Your Bruxism

Bruxism can come on suddenly when you go through a stressful period at work. Your body becomes so accustomed to the grinding that you keep doing it once that period passes.

The best way to treat your bruxism depends on whether you show symptoms during the day or at night and take any prescription medications. Muscle relaxers and botox injections can help as well as a night guard and behavioral changes.

Contact Clay & Associates DDS, PLC in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to get help diagnosing your bruxism and learning how you can treat the condition and preserve your teeth.


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