Do you experience cold sensitivity, pain in your jaw muscles or popping in your jaw joint? You might be grinding your teeth. Grinding one’s teeth is also known as bruxism which is defined as a destructive and parafunctional (not normal) activity. This, often unconscious, behavior can create several oral and overall health issues. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, one may notice headaches, excessive tooth wear, receding gums, broken teeth or fillings, and pain when chewing. If you’re visiting your dentist regularly and he notices the deterioration of tooth surfaces or restorative dental work, he will suspect you are grinding your teeth. Often, this is done during sleep but can be done throughout the waking hours as well. If left untreated, the costs to repair the damaged teeth or previous dental work can mount up.
The most effective treatment is to address the bruxism first. Most often, the grinding is a result of stress. Identifying and reducing stress and becoming aware of the act of grinding during the waking hours is helpful. Relaxation and stress management techniques can be used to lessen or halt the behavior. Physiotherapy, the use of physical agents or means such as massage or exercise, can be effective in treating the underlying causes of bruxism. Dental treatment can include an occlusal (bite) guard to prevent damage to the teeth when the grinding occurs; generally worn during the night. Treatment and repair of the damaged teeth is necessary to prevent further deterioration of one’s oral health. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of bruxism or suspect that you may be grinding your teeth, talk with Dr. Jekel at your next dental visit.