A large amount of people wake with headaches and jaw pain that could be a sign of an underlying condition that causes them to grind their teeth and clench their jaw.
Bruxism is a habit characterized by involuntary teeth grinding and jaw clenching that can lead to dental damage, headaches and jaw pain. Teeth grinding can also cause enlargement of facial muscles, ear pain, sleep disorders and stiffness around the shoulders and neck.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
The Bruxism Association says a lot of different factors can lead to teeth grinding, listing sleep disorders, age, caffeine and alcohol consumption, smoking, antidepressants, stress and anxiety as just a few potential factors that may lead to involuntary teeth grinding. But even with all of these factors believed to be causes, there have been no clear cut findings that attribute teeth grinding directly to any of them.
Stress and anxiety do seem to be prevalent in individuals who grind their teeth. According to Colgate, 70 percent of people who grind their teeth suffered from some level of stress or anxiety.
How Can I Stop Grinding My Teeth?
The biggest problem with bruxism is that most clenching and grinding occurs involuntary while you’re asleep. Regardless of the cause, for the sake of your dental health, you’ll want to attempt to keep your teeth grinding to a minimum. This can be done through the use of an occlusal appliance, which is a plastic mouthpiece designed specifically for your own mouth. These mouthpieces fit over your top or bottom teeth to protect your teeth and reduce jaw muscle pain.
If you want to pursue an occlusal appliance — commonly referred to as occlusal splints, occlusal bite guards and night guards — it is best to set up an exam with your dentist to determine what course of action is best for you. The dentist may recommend an occlusal splint, or something else to fit your unique situation best.
The Final Word
The most important thing to remember is that keeping your dentist informed of teeth grinding will allow them to treat your teeth and overall dental health in the most effective way possible, as you work to find a solution that works for you.