Causes and Common Signs of Bruxism

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If you ever wake up with a headache or unexplained jaw pain, or your jaw pops and clicks when you open or close your mouth, you may suffer from bruxism. The condition is characterized by nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching, but these behaviors may also occur during the day. Bruxism doesn’t necessarily become a serious health problem, but it can lead to deterioration of tooth enamel, chronic jaw pain, arthritis, TMJ syndrome, and gum disease. Tooth grinding is usually related to stress, but mechanical problems like misaligned or broken teeth can also cause the habit.

Your Dentist Can Identify Signs of Teeth Grinding



Many patients don’t realize they are grinding their teeth even while it is occurring. Your dentist may suspect the problem when he or she notices worn tooth enamel or signs of decay. A mild case of teeth grinding may not need any specific treatment, but if you are clenching and grinding often enough to cause symptoms, your dentist may suggest wearing a custom mouth guard at night to protect your teeth from further damage. Tooth grinding caused by stress may respond to physical therapy, meditation, relaxation techniques, or massage. In some cases, muscle relaxants can help.

Less Common Causes of Bruxism



Tooth grinding isn’t always due to anxiety or tooth misalignment. It can sometimes result from neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Some prescription medicines such as antidepressants may also trigger the behavior. If you have jaw pain, headaches, worn teeth, or other symptoms suggestive of teeth grinding, see your dentist for evaluation and treatment.

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