What does bruxism mean?
We all grit our teeth on occasion, but what does it mean when you’re constantly grinding your teeth together?
There are several common signs you might be suffering from bruxism, which is the medical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
They include muscle pain, a sore jaw, headaches and cracked or worn teeth.
Some people aren’t even aware they grind their teeth.
A partner might notice the noise from the grinding overnight while you’re both asleep, and it’s only during a visit to a dental practice you’ll become aware it’s what’s causing your teeth to break or crack.
So just what causes bruxism?
There are several reasons why you might suffer from bruxism.
It can be related to a breathing problem, like sleep apnoea or snoring. Any serious sleep issues should be investigated further to ensure the right treatment is provided.
However, the main reason people tend to grind their teeth is because of stress-related issues.
Sometimes bruxism and its symptoms worsen when you’re going through a stressful period in life.
You might be having a tough time in your career, or be experiencing relationship strain. Or perhaps you’re juggling new motherhood or other big changes to your life.
You might have always ground your teeth together, but it can be exacerbated when you’re going through a period of life stress and you might also experience muscle spasms in your jaw.
How do I know I am grinding my teeth?
A diagnosis of bruxism occurs after an oral examination with a dentist.
Usually patients have tight or painful jaw muscles when we palpate them.
Palpating is when the dentist examines your mouth and presses down on your teeth and gums to feel for lumps, bumps and tender areas. When we do that, we’re checking for any problems you might have in the areas surrounding your teeth. We do this for every new patient examination at Pelago Dental.
Some signs of bruxism can include the edges or the tops of the teeth being worn down flat, and the height of the tooth being reduced.
A patient may be able to feel that change by running their tongue along the top of their teeth and feeling rough edges developing or notice changes or chips to the enamel on their teeth.
The other main sign of bruxism is if you’re waking up with a headache or you have a very stiff jaw in the morning.