If you regularly wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, dull headache, tooth or jaw soreness, you could be suffering from a condition called bruxism (teeth grinding), Most people that grind their teeth don’t even realize that it’s happening. Approximately 1 in 3 people suffer from teeth grinding and about 10% of those have it so severely that their teeth wear down, in some cases to small nubs. This problem affects people of all ages, but is more common in adults. While bruxism can’t necessarily be cured as some people believe, it can be relieved.
Bruxism and Children
While most common in adults, bruxism needs to be taken very seriously in small children and teens. Some studies have estimated that as many as 20 to 30 % of children grind their teeth. In many cases, this is a sign that their top teeth don’t align properly with their bottom teeth. In this case an orthodontist should be consulted as soon as possible.
Preserving Your Natural Teeth
During regular dental exams, your orthodontist will check for signs of bruxism. At E&S Orthodontics, our focus is on preserving your natural teeth, keeping their original shape and size. If the bruxism is severe, there are three approaches commonly used to prevent tooth damage and relieve jaw and teeth pain and discomfort.
The most common treatment for bruxism is using a nightguard, specially designed to keep your teeth separated, preventing further damage due to the clenching and grinding of the teeth. While some people find a nightguard to be uncomfortable, it’s one of the best ways to protect teeth besides teeth straightening.
2. Aligning the Teeth
If you have misaligned teeth you should schedule a consultation with an orthodontist right away. Teeth that are out of alignment, what orthodontists refer to as malocclusion, can play a role in teeth grinding. This problem can be addressed with braces.
3. Medication or Dietary Changes
Medications used to relieve bruxism include muscle relaxants, and medications to relieve stress or anxiety. Following a healthy, balanced diet plan is important as well, along with avoiding foods that you’re allergic to.
If you have any questions about bruxism, nightguards and available treatments that weren’t answered here, feel free to give us a call.
Ousama El-Hillal, referred to as Dr. O by patients, staff and friends is an Orthodontist at E&S Orthodontics. He founded E&S Orthodontics with Dr. Saavedra in 2004. He is driven to create Wide Beautiful Smiles Without Extractions.