Some patients react to stress by grinding their teeth unconsciously during the day or, more commonly, while sleeping. The constant pressure and motion can harm teeth, as well as muscles and tissues in and around the jaw. This condition, known as bruxism, can oftentimes be remedied with a nightguard. Dr. Mary Lewis is able to fit you for a nightguard in Virginia Beach.
The Facts About Clenching & Grinding
Common symptoms of bruxism include a sore jaw, headaches, or earaches. The enamel on the teeth may also become worn down, leading to increased tooth sensitivity. Teeth are more likely to become chipped or cracked as a result of the stresses placed on them by grinding. The patient’s sleep partner may notice the sound of grinding during the night.
Causes vary, but may include stress, anxiety, tension, misaligned teeth, posture, diet, sleeping habits, and other factors. Bruxism is most prevalent in women and generally found in about one-third of the population. Individuals who feel stressed, especially if they react to stress with anger or frustration, or who have competitive or aggressive personalities are most commonly affected. People with bruxism may have other biting habits, such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips, or the insides of their cheeks.
Constant clenching and grinding of the teeth may also contribute to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, which has a long list of potential symptoms associated with pain in the head and neck. Teeth rubbing together consistently will result in surface wear over time, which will cause dental problems. Insomnia, eating disorders, and depression are also associated with bruxism.
A Solid Solution
How can you stop an unconscious habit? It’s not enough for you to know that grinding or clenching your teeth will cause problems, because you’re not doing it on purpose. Simply deciding to stop grinding probably won’t work, especially if it’s happening in your sleep.
An orthodontic appliance, called a nightguard or splint, can help to prevent grinding and clenching. These devices fit into the mouth over the teeth, putting a barrier between the upper and lower teeth so you can’t grind your teeth. You wear it while you sleep, and you can sleep peacefully knowing that you won’t be damaging your jaw and teeth at night.
There are several different types of nightguards, and patients react differently to the various styles. If one appliance does not work, another may. In many cases, simply wearing a nightguard will eliminate the problem. However, if the condition persists, we can prescribe alternative therapies to correct the issue.
Some practices that can relieve symptoms of bruxism include stress and anxiety management (including guided visualization, meditation, and breathing exercises), focused facial relaxation, massage and stretching of face and neck muscles, applying ice or wet heat, getting enough good-quality sleep, eating soft foods, and hydrating the body. If your teeth were damaged because of bruxism, or if we find TMJD to be a factor, our team will treat you to provide relief.
Dentist in Virginia Beach
If you believe that you may have bruxism, then you may want to be evaluated for a nightguard in Virginia Beach. Only a qualified dentist can determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for this treatment. Additionally, while there are cheap over-the-counter nightguards available in drug stores, a professionally fitted nightguard is more likely to feel comfortable and to successfully treat your symptoms. Dr. Mary Lewis is a top dentist in Virginia Beach, with years of experience in evaluating bruxism and providing nightguards in Virginia Beach for those who need them. To book your complementary consultation with Dr. Lewis, please call our office.