The Dangers of Grinding Your Teeth

2021-12-28T15:33:17+00:00December 28th, 2021|Teeth Grinding|

Teeth Grinding Monroe NC

Do you ever wake up in the morning with a slight headache and a stiff or sore jaw? If so, these symptoms could be the result of grinding your teeth during sleep. Teeth grinding is a common problem with a myriad of causes, and if you think you may be grinding away on those teeth every night, Adam Brown DDS can help you to stop.

Grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw—known as “Bruxism” in the dentistry world—usually happens unconsciously while you are asleep or awake, and it can lead to all sorts of sleeping disorders such as snoring, even sleep apnea.

How do you know if you are grinding your teeth at night? Here are a few signs that could indicate bruxism:
1. Flattened teeth.
2. Loose, chipped, or cracked teeth.
3. Tight or sore jaw muscles, especially when you wake from sleep.
4. Regular toothaches and/or increased sensitivity.
5. A dull ache surrounding your ears and temples.
6. Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ), which is clicking or grinding when you move your jaw.

Though having any of these signs could mean you are grinding your teeth, but the best way to be sure is to pop in for a visit. A trained eye can see the side effects of teeth grinding pretty quickly and diagnose the issue and begin working towards a solution.

 

Why Do We Grind Our Teeth?
Truthfully, we are not entirely sure what causes bruxism. Whether physical, psychological, even genetic, there are a host of reasons people might grind their teeth while sleeping. Often when people are under a lot of stress and anxiety, they begin to subconsciously bite abnormally or aggressively, which can then lead to bruxism. Teeth grinding can also be a side effect of some medications like antidepressants.

If you think or know, you are grinding your teeth at night, begin narrowing down the possible reasons: does your family have a history of teeth grinders? Are you on medication? Are you under more stress than usual?

 

Getting Help
Rather than trying to live with bruxism until your teeth are whittled down to nothing, consider visiting us at Adam Brown DDS. Even if you are unsure if you are suffering from bruxism, it’s worth a quick appointment to find out and get help if needed. During your dental exam, we will look for any excessive wear on your teeth, any cracks or chips, even loose teeth.

Depending on what we find, we will then discuss a plan to stop you from grinding those teeth every night. Here are some possible solutions:
Wearing a Mandibular Advancement Device. This is a method for the more serious grinders where a mouthpiece is attached to your head that keeps your jaw fixed in one position. It’s not the most comfortable solution, but it works!
Wearing a basic mouth guard to protect the teeth while asleep. The mouth guard is perfectly molded to your teeth, and though this is a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, you will quickly get used to it.
Wearing a splint that keeps the teeth separated. If the mouth guard is too bulky or awkward, consider the low-profile splint instead.
Abstain from alcohol for a while. It has been proven that drinking alcohol does, at times, intensify bruxism while sleeping.
Cut back, or cut out completely, anything with caffeine in it. The energy gained from caffeine can cause nerves and muscles to work overtime while sleeping.
Begin using stress-management techniques. Maybe even begin some behavioral therapy, such as training yourself to hold your jaw and mouth in a single position for long periods of time.

The good news is that teeth grinding is treatable. If you suffer from bruxism, we will find a way to stop it. This is why it’s so important to visit your dentist as soon as you suspect you are grinding your teeth at night. We can assess and apply the appropriate method of treatment, and make any adjustments along the way. The key thing to note is the sooner you get treatment, the healthier your teeth and mouth will be—and remain to be.

 

Healthy Teeth, Happy Living
While we are on the subject of maintaining those teeth, let’s not forget the basics when it comes to keeping them clean and healthy. In order to maintain a pleasant smile, it’s important to set a regime of brushing twice a day. Brush your teeth in the morning and at night with fluoride toothpaste. In the morning it’s a good idea, to begin with, mouth wash, which breaks down plaque and food particles. Then thoroughly floss between each tooth to get those spots your toothbrush won’t reach. When brushing, hold the toothbrush at an angle pointing the bristles towards the gums. Brush, using back-and-forth motions on both the inside and outside of the teeth, making sure not to scrub too vigorously.

Brushing too hard can cause the gums to recede and expose sensitive areas of the teeth. It is strongly advised to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush for two minutes a side and repeat the same process at night. People tend to see the dentist once a year, but it’s much better for you if you go every six months. Here are four reasons why:

1. Removing Hardened Plaque. You know when you visit the dentist and he gets that sharp, silver hook tool and scrapes it against your teeth? Sometimes, he has to press extra hard and poke and prod. What he is doing is removing plaque from your teeth. You see, though flossing and brushing twice a day can get most of it from your teeth, little bits of plaque can remain and harden. Over time, plaque will discolor your teeth and can cause damage to the teeth and gums if it’s not removed. Visiting your dentist twice a year will keep this hardened substance from accumulating.

2. Preventing Cavities. Plaque and food particles can create cavities, which eat away at the teeth. And like gum disease, cavities can be difficult to notice right away. Unless you see a dentist, that is. If they are found, cavities can be removed and the damaged tooth repaired, or, in extreme cases, the tooth will have to be pulled. Regardless, it is of the utmost importance that cavities are taken care of right away, as they can lead to more serious oral maladies.

3. Preventing Gum Disease. Bacteria in the mouth can cause gum disease, and most times it is not noticeable to the individual who has it until it’s festered. However, your dentist can help prevent gum disease from ever occurring by professionally cleaning your teeth and gums. And if signs of gum disease show up, he can recommend the proper medication to help illuminate it.

4. Preventing Oral Cancer. The thought of cancer can be scary, but it’s something that should not be ignored. Instead, it should be prevented. Seeing your dentist twice a year and having an oral exam can greatly help reduce your chances of contracting cancer of the mouth.

Maintaining your oral health is so important, as cavities and gum disease if left alone, could lead to serious medical problems—even heart disease. Poor oral health can even affect other diseases, like diabetes, making them more difficult to control. This is why it’s so important to be sure you are caring for your teeth and gums correctly. If you suspect that you are grinding your teeth at night, even if you have general questions about keeping up on your oral health, please call or visit us at Adam Brown DDS.

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TMJ Issues – What You Need to Know

2020-06-11T13:21:55+00:00October 22nd, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, General, Oral Health|

If you’ve ever experienced acute jaw pain, you’re not alone. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is a common issue that currently affects over 10 million Americans. Women tend to be more prone to this disorder than men although researchers don’t yet fully understand why. The good news is that the majority of TMJ disorders do not indicate serious, long term issues and the associated pain is typically temporary in nature. Understanding what TMJ disorder is can help those suffering to better treat and manage any discomfort that might arise.

 

What is TMJ

Your temporomandibular joint is a complicated joint that works to connect your lower jaw to your skull. It acts like a sliding hinge and allows your mouth to move in various directions which, in turn, supports your ability to eat, yawn, smile and more. Due to its design and location within the body, the TMJ is one of the more difficult joints to access and treat. Disorders of the temporomandibular joint typically present in one of three ways:

  1. Pain or discomfort occurring in the tissues that control jaw function
  2. Injury or dislocation within the area of the jaw
  3. Arthritis or inflammation within the joint

Individual causes of TMJ disorder can be difficult to diagnose as there can be a mixture of reasons why a person experiences jaw pain.

 

Causes and Symptoms

While some cases of TMJ disorder can be initiated by injury, most causes are less evident and the origin unknown. Because the disorder is found to be more prevalent in women versus men, researchers are currently studying whether female hormones might play a potential role.

While teeth grinding and jaw clenching can potentially trigger TMJ pain, it isn’t considered to be a definitive cause. Braces and other methods of alignment have also not been proven to bring about TMJ disorder.

People who experience TMJ pain commonly suffer from one or more symptoms including:

  • Pain or discomfort when eating/chewing food
  • Pain in or around your ear (sometimes feels like a dull earache)
  • Inability to fully open and close your mouth
  • Pain traveling in and around the area of the face

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

As of today, there are no set methods for diagnosing TMJ disorder. When assessing the problem, your dentist will observe your jaw, feel in the area of the temporomandibular joint for any clicking or popping, and potentially order an x-ray if he/she feels additional observation is needed. It’s also a good idea to visit your family doctor in addition to your dentist to rule out alternative reasons you might be experiencing craniofacial pain.

Often times, the pain associated with TMJ disorder will go away on its own. However, if treatment is needed, there are a handful of options typically available to most patients.

  • Over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Common medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol will go a long way toward providing relief for most occurrences of TMJ disorder. However, if your case is more serious, your dentist may prescribe a clinical dose to help alleviate the pain.
  • Stabilization splints (Bite Guards). A bite guard is one of the more common solutions that a dentist can provide to help with the pain of TMJ disorder. This appliance fits over either the upper or lower teeth and is typically worn full-time for a short period followed by a short stint of wearing while eating and/or sleeping. While it is not fully understood why this appliance helps it is believed that stabilizing the muscles in the mouth can help to repair any potential damage that might have occurred over time within the temporomandibular joint.

There are also a number of ways that you can control the discomfort of TMJ disorder through specific methods of self-care.

  • Practice facial relaxation techniques. Tightness and pulling of the jaw muscles can aggravate and increase discomfort in your temporomandibular joint. When you begin to feel pain, be aware of whether or not you’re clenching. Practice releasing the tension in your jaw.
  • Avoid exaggerated or repetitive movements of the jaw. Activities such as gum chewing or excessive yawning/yelling can exacerbate TMJ pain and should be avoided if possible.
  • Stay away from hard food. Focusing on eating soft foods when experiencing TMJ pain can help to keep discomfort to a minimum.

 

While there is currently no hard and fast solution to the issues associated with TMJ, there are several ways that you can manage and control the discomforts associated with it. If you are concerned you might have TMJ disorder, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for more information.

At Carolina’s Dental Choice, our dentists are experts in the management of TMJ disorder and are ready to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to call our office to learn more about the ways we can help.

 

Works Cited

“TMJ Disorders.” National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Health, Sept. 2017, https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-12/tmj-disorders.pdf.

“TMJ Disorders.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Dec. 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350945.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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