If you find yourself waking up with sore jaw muscles or a headache, you may be suffering from bruxism - the grinding and clenching of teeth. Bruxism can cause teeth to become painful or loose. Eventually, bruxism can destroy the surrounding bone and gum tissue. It can also lead to problems involving the jaw joint.
How Do I Know If I Have Bruxism?
For many people, bruxism is an unconscious habit. They may not even realize they're doing it until someone comments that they make a horrible grinding sound while sleeping. For others, a routine dental check-up is when they discover their teeth are worn or their tooth enamel is fractured. Other potential signs of bruxism include aching in the face, head and neck. Your dentist can make an accurate diagnosis and determine if the source of facial pain is a result from bruxism.
How is Bruxism Treated
The appropriate treatment for you will depend on what is causing the problem. By asking careful questions and thoroughly examining your teeth, your dentist can help you determine the potential source of your bruxism, your dentist may suggest:
Wearing an appliance while sleeping. Custom-made by your dentist to fit your teeth, the appliance slips over the upper teeth or lower teeth and protects them from grinding against the lower teeth.
Finding ways to relax, anything that reduces stress can help-listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or a bath.
Also, applying a warm, wet washcloth to the side of your face can help relax muscles sore from clenching.
Reducing the "high spots" of one or more teeth to even your bite. This may also be corrected with new fillings, crowns or orthodontics.