What Causes Grinding and How to Quit

Have you ever been awakened by someone grinding their teeth beside you?

The sound is painful – one of those nail-on-the-chalkboard type of sounds. Teeth grinding and clenching, medically called bruxism, affects people during the night and sometimes during waking hours.

You may feel a dull pain in your jaw during the day or experience headaches without identifying the cause. You may be confused about the symptoms and ignorant of the cause. Many sufferers don’t know they grind their teeth at night until a loved one hears them.

You may experience symptoms without connecting the symptoms to your bruxism if you’re grinding your teeth unconsciously. Symptoms include headaches, sore jaw and teeth, loose teeth, neck pain, eating disorders, depression, sensitive teeth and gum recession. Teeth grinding can be similar to a sleep disorder, and it can exacerbate insomnia and result in poor sleep. Since the temporomandibular joint is located so close to the ear canal, some patients may experience referred pain through earaches, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The next battle comes with identifying the cause of your teeth grinding. Why are you doing it? Is it due to stress? Is it a habit? Many times, teeth grinders have poorly aligned bites, causing them to gnash their teeth unnecessarily. Visiting a dentist to inspect your mouth should enlighten you to any malocclusion issues related to your bruxism.

Bakersfield dentist Dr. Joseph Marvizi and associates see many patients for teeth grinding. They will first check the patient’s alignment. Teeth alignment is important in the way we chew, eat and talk. This misalignment can affect your dental health. Here at Apollonia Dental Center, Dr. Marvizi will conduct comprehensive exams to determine which course of action is ideal for each patient. He may fit you for a mouth guard to wear during sleep, which will inhibit your ability to grind your teeth. Your dentist may also suggest certain aligning treatments, such as Invisalign or traditional braces. Another option is full mouth rehabilitation, which restores your bite to its original condition with crowns and bridges. This restoration allows muscles to relax and puts the TMJ in its proper position.

Aside from malocclusion, there can be different factors causing people to grind their teeth, including stress, anxiety, consuming a high level of caffeine, high blood alcohol content, certain drug use, smoking, and diseases like Parkinson’s.

Try to relax yourself before bedtime to reduce the chances that you’ll grind during sleep. Stretching, mediation and breathing exercises can help you calm down. Anxiety can be a serious detriment to your health. Try to pinpoint the root of your anxiety, and even consider talking to a psychologist, psychiatrist or physical therapist for professional help.

Changing certain lifestyle behaviors may also help reduce your stress and your habit of teeth grinding. Drinking alcohol can worsen teeth grinding, so reducing or cutting out alcohol may be good for bruxism. Refrain from chewing on things that aren’t food, like pencils, pens, ice or gum, as this unneeded chewing can trigger the grinding habit. Make a conscious effort to relax your jaw and face when you feel your jaw clenching during the day. You could place your tongue between your teeth and massage your jaw muscle. Teaching your face how to relax can be instrumental in deterring grinding.

Dr. Marvizi and his associates can implement cosmetic dental treatments to improve your bite, effectively thwarting your bruxism. These treatments include bridges, crowns and dental implants.

Our office also offers general and cosmetic dentistry to Bakersfield patients, including routine teeth cleaning, root canal treatment, teeth whitening, fillings, laser treatment, implants and sleep dentistry. Contact us today to schedule an appointment if you’re concerned about your teeth grinding and how it’s affecting your sleep, your teeth and your health.

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