Bruxism: The Destructive Habit You May Not Know You Have
Tooth grinding or jaw clenching, also referred to as bruxism, is a condition that occurs when a patient subconsciously gnashes their upper and lower teeth when sleeping or distracted. Bruxism is a habit, but a habit of which most bruxism sufferers have no awareness. Often, bruxism is only revealed when a patient’s loved one reports hearing the patient grinding in his/her sleep, or a dentist sees tell-tale abrasions on the molars.
Bruxism develops from a number of causes. When the upper and lower arches of the teeth are poorly aligned, also called malocclusion, fatigued jaw muscles can twitch and tighten, causing subconscious grinding. Other causes include: TMJ disorder, missing or crooked teeth, nail biting or other poor oral habits, and stress or anxiety.
The High Cost of Bruxism
Bruxism is a destructive habit that can lead to chronic pain and a reduced quality of life. The physical side effects include:
- Worn, crazed, or broken teeth
- Destruction of previous restorative work, like fillings or crowns
- Acceleration of tooth decay
- Chronic migraine or headache
- Tinnitus (ringing ears)
- TMJ disorder
- Jaw, neck, shoulder, and even low-back pain
TMJ disorder refers to misalignment of the temporomandibular joints, which connect your jaw to your skull. Bruxism puts significant stress on these joints, ultimately causing chronic pain and diminished jaw function. TMJ disorder can seriously impact quality of life if left untreated.
Bruxism Treatment at Your West Des Moines Dental Office
Patients with acute bruxism might find relief by simply avoiding the habits that caused bruxism, such as nail biting and ice chewing. However, others require medical intervention. Valley Ridge Family Dental offers custom, removable appliances called nightguards.
If you are diagnosed with bruxism, your West Des Moines dentist will custom fit the appliance to your mouth, using an impression of your teeth. After you receive your nightguard, you will wear it every night. As you sleep, the nightguard will not only protect your teeth from the damage of grinding, but it may retrain, or reprogram, your jaw muscles so that you stop grinding altogether.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jessica Johnson at Valley Ridge Family Dental, contact our office at (515) 223-9764. We are located in the Jordan Creek neighborhood of West Des Moines, IA. We also serve Waukee, Urbandale, and Clive.