woman with headache from chronic tooth grindingWhat is Chronic Tooth Grinding?

Chronic tooth grinding (medically called “bruxism) occurs during sleep and is associated with other health issues including sleep apnea. Individuals who consistently grind their teeth risk fracturing, losing or wearing their teeth down to stumps.

Restorative procedures that will repair the damage caused by grinding your teeth include:

  • Bridges
  • Complete or partial dentures
  • Crowns
  • Implants
  • Root Canals

What are the Signs of Tooth Grinding?

Most people are not aware that they grind their teeth until a family member or loved one tells them. Tooth grinding doesn’t just occur at night. If you are experiencing a stressful situation, you may be grinding your teeth. The signs include:

  • Jaw soreness
  • Extreme wear of the teeth
  • Dull headaches

Ways to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

Talk to your primary care physician about available options to help you if you are grinding your teeth due to stress. Other ways to help reduce your stress are:

  • Taking a prescribed muscle relaxant
  • Increasing your physical activity (gym, swimming, walking, etc.)
  • Seeing a physical therapist or stress counselor
  • Using warm compresses against your cheek, in front of your earlobe at night to help relax your jaw muscles.
  • Not chewing on objects such as pencils, pens, etc.
  • Not chewing gum because it works the jaw muscle to clench causing you to grind your teeth.
  • Avoiding foods that contain caffeine (coffee, chocolate, soda).

Sleep Apnea and Tooth Grinding

Sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea or Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) also cause tooth grinding. Sleep Apnea lowers the oxygen levels in the blood, but UARS does not. However, both restrict your breathing ability which leads to sleep interruption. If you believe that you are suffering from either of these sleep disorders, you should request a referral to see a board-certified sleep specialist from your primary care physician. The sleep specialist will diagnose you and provide you with treatment options.

If you are suffering from chronic tooth grinding, contact our office to schedule an appointment. Dr. Cranham and the team at Chesapeake Center for Complete Dentistry are here to help you with all of your dental needs.

Posted in: Bruxism, teeth grinding

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