Do you have undiagnosed pain in your jaw, face, or neck? Maybe your jaw muscles feel tight, and you can’t open your mouth all the way at times. What’s going on?
Your jaw problem may stem from something you do when you’re asleep: teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. You may think that you don’t grind your teeth. However, it usually happens when you’re asleep, so how would you know?
Teeth grinding over a long period can really degrade your teeth and gums. Board-certified general and cosmetic dentist Tatiana Barton, DDS, recommends night guards for teeth grinding to help prevent permanent tooth damage.
Genetic and environmental factors play a role in bruxism.
Would you say you’re anxious or stressed? Stress can produce numerous coping and self-soothing reactions, including clenching your teeth.
If you already clench your teeth during the day, you’re likely to continue the stress-related reaction at night. If you wake up with pain around your jaw, you may be grinding your teeth at night.
Some but not all cases of teeth grinding occur simultaneously with sleep apnea. Researchers have found that obstructive sleep apnea is a major risk factor for teeth grinding at night. Scientists have hypotheses about how the conditions are associated but don’t have definitive evidence yet confirming their theories.
Your genes may play a role in teeth grinding. Researchers say there’s evidence of a genetic link.
Smoking, alcohol use, and caffeine are just some of the lifestyle factors associated with bruxism. Certain medications for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder could heighten your risk of bruxism.
Without treatment, bruxism can cause serious damage, resulting in expensive tooth repair. These are just some of the ways bruxism can harm your teeth:
Treating bruxism early is important to avoid permanent damage to your teeth. Dr. Barton lets you know if your teeth show signs of bruxism during routine dental exams, but if you’re noticing pain or signs of wear, don’t wait to make an appointment.
Dr. Barton can create a custom mouth guard fitted for your mouth by taking impressions of your teeth. A lab creates a night guard made expressly for you that you wear when you sleep, preventing you from teeth grinding so you can avoid permanent tooth damage.
Additionally, Dr. Barton may recommend specific exercises to do each day to aid jaw mobility. She may recommend a sleep study if she suspects you may have sleep apnea.
Call Tatiana Barton, DDS, or book an appointment through our online portal today if you have unexplained jaw, ear, or facial pain and for all of your dental needs.