You work hard to take care of your teeth during the day, but did you know that they could be developing serious damage while you sleep? Periods of high-stress can lead to unconscious teeth grinding during the night, better known as “bruxism,” and this can spell serious trouble for your oral health if left untreated. If you suspect that you might be grinding your teeth in West Seneca, read on to learn how you can find out, and more importantly, what you can do to stop it and protect your smile!
How to Know that You Are Grinding Your Teeth
People who regularly experience bruxism tend to exhibit a few telltale symptoms, the primary one being that their teeth look extremely flat and worn down. This is because bruxism actually exposes the teeth to pressure up to 4x greater than regular chewing, which is enough to crack and even break enamel. Another sign to look out for is something called a scalloped tongue, in which the grinding teeth actually leave a row of impressions on the side of the tongue. It is also common for people to wake up with a headache or sore jaw because bruxism can lead to tense and strained muscles. It can also be a side effect of sleep apnea, so sufferers may tend to feel exhausted during the day despite how much they have slept.
The Dangers of Grinding Your Teeth
Untreated bruxism can cause a variety of serious oral health issues if left untreated, including:
- Chipped/broken teeth
- Teeth that appear flat/unattractive
- Chronic pain in the jaw, face, head, and neck
- Severely worn down dental restorations/dentures
- Tooth loss
How to Get Past the Grind
Breaking a bad habit is difficult on its own, but what should you do about one that only occurs when you are asleep? Thankfully, there are a few proven ways to keep your teeth safe from the nightly grind:
- Try to reduce your stress. Overwhelmingly, bruxism is the result of daily stress, so making time to relax, especially in the evening, is a great way to prevent this habit.
- Try to notice when you grind your teeth. Many people who primarily experience bruxism at night also grind their teeth during the day, and figuring out what triggers this could be a big help. Are their certain situations where your jaw tenses up, or does it just happen naturally throughout the day? Keeping this in mind can help you actively relax these muscles.
- Visit your dentist. Your dentist in West Seneca cannot only help you determine whether or not you are grinding in the first place, but they can also help you keep your teeth protected while you are trying to break the habit. They can provide you with a custom-made mouthpiece called a nightguard that you will wear to bed, which will place a barrier between the rows of teeth to prevent any harmful contact during the night.
While bruxism can cause serious damage to your smile, a trip to your dentist might be all you need to sleep soundly and keep your smile in one piece night after night. If any of the symptoms listed above sound familiar, be sure to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later—your smile will thank you for it!
About the Author
Dr. Lee Shainbrown is a family, restorative, and cosmetic dentist based in West Seneca who practices at Applegate Dental. Bruxism is a common problem he sees almost every day, and if you think you might be grinding your teeth at night, he is more than ready to help by providing a therapeutic mouthguard and give you strategies on how to relax stressed facial muscles. To learn more about everything you have just read or schedule an appointment, he can be contacted through his website.