Many people grind or clench their teeth unconsciously. Whether awake or asleep, this difficult-to-break habit, officially known as bruxism, can have detrimental effects on not only your teeth, but also your overall health. Breaking the habit while awake is not as serious as when asleep because—of course—it’s nearly impossible to break an involuntary action if it occurs while you sleep.
And although not everyone that grinds his or her teeth does so for the same reasons, experts site a few, basic indicators as to why this common occurrence affects so many of us.
- Anxiety and/or stress.
- Earache (often caused by referred pain, or pain that comes from somewhere nearby, but is felt in another place. The structures of the temporomandibular joint are very close to the ear canal, and tooth grinding or clenching can cause pain, as well as temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ disorder or TMD)
- Eating disorders.
- Tooth sensitivity of sweets and/or temperature extremes.
- Sore or painful jaw.
And these resultant side effects aren’t the only adverse conditions that can arise if this serious habit isn’t broken; there are numerous, other consequences that can negatively impact your life. You may already be experiencing some or all of these symptoms and not even realize it. They can include:
• Chips in your teeth or dentures. This is unavoidable over time.
• Jaw pains [often resulting in TMJ, as mentioned earlier]. As much as 10% of the population experience this each morning upon waking.
• Chronic headaches. Perhaps the most painful—and bothersome—effect of bruxism; overly exerted facial muscles are the cause.
• Restricted jaw and facial movements. Again, TMJ may result.
• Recession of your gums. Once this occurs, teeth will become misaligned and major surgery may eventually be required to restore your teeth to normal.
• Sleep debt (lack of sleep). The dangers of this alone most of us are aware, but should be explored in depth.
• Relationships affected. Some relationships have been broken up due to negligence of teeth grinding or clicking particularly during sleeping hours; depriving your partner of the sleep he or she needs.
If you’re experiencing any of these indicators and you know you grind, click, or clench your teeth, call Dr. Fondriest as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to begin addressing the problem: 847-234-0517.