You may not even realize it, but it’s possible that you are grinding your teeth during the day and especially while sleeping at night. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is often a subconscious behavior which places unusual force on your teeth and jaw. It is smart to know the signs to help you recognize if you are grinding your teeth, and what to do if you do have symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Some people may experience only one or two symptoms, and others may encounter many problems from teeth grinding. Some common signs include:
• Sore jaw or facial muscles
• Muscle tightness or pain in the morning after sleeping
• Stiff or painful shoulders
• Clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth
• Difficulty opening or moving your jaw
What are the consequences?
Teeth grinding can have both short and long-term effects on your health. If you begin to experience symptoms and ignore them, the likelihood of long-term consequences rises. Your teeth may become worn down and crack, which may require more complex and costly dental treatments in the future. Also, your teeth can become overly sensitive because of nerve endings becoming exposed through wear. Pain is another outcome of teeth grinding, and sometimes temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder develops.
Is there treatment for it?
Visit your dentist if you notice symptoms, and you may be able to determine together what is causing your bruxism. This bad habit is often linked to anxiety, so limiting stress in your life as much as possible may help. If teeth grinding continues, your dentist may suggest you wear a mouth guard that helps prevent grinding movements. Counseling, physical therapy, and muscle relaxants are sometimes also recommended.