Mouth Guards can help save your teeth and improve your health
"Keep a stiff upper lip" or "get a grip!" That's often the advice we get - and give - on how to cope with stress. If you take this advice literally, though, the result could be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaws. It's called bruxism, and often it happens as we sleep, caused not just by stress and anxiety, but by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, or teeth that are missing or crooked. Some sufferers even grind their teeth loudly enough to awaken a spouse. Since bruxism is a subconscious behavior, many people are not even aware that they are doing it unless they or a loved one notice the symptoms.
Common symptoms of tooth grinding include a dull headache or a sore jaw. The wearing away of tooth enamel that comes with prolonged bruxism can also lead to the development of sensitive teeth. This condition is characterized by painful sensitivity to pressure - such as chewing - or hot, cold or sweet food or beverages.
As painful and irritating as sensitive teeth can be, more serious conditions can also result from severe grinding. Teeth can become loose or develop fractures. In some cases, bruxism can even cause damage to the temporomandibular joint, or the jaw's "hinge."
More and more research is also focusing on the relationship between bruxism and migraines. In a large percentage of migraine sufferers, the trigeminal nerve, which reports sensations from the oral area to the brain, is found to be hyperactive. Intense nighttime jaw clenching during sleep results in a bombardment of negative information sent to the brain's sensory nucleus, thereby sensitizing it and making the patient far more susceptible to migraine attacks. Those who awaken with headache pain may be victims of this vicious cycle of interacting biological factors that can exacerbate both migraine and tension headaches.
If you are experiencing any or all of the above symptoms, you may be suffering from bruxism. It is important for you to contact us to discuss solutions for this potentially health-threatening condition. We can fit you with a specially designed mouth guard to protect your teeth during sleep. Not surprisingly, high stress and anxiety levels contribute to bruxism. Alcohol intake has also been shown to worsen tooth grinding. Patients are advised to seek ways to more effectively manage stress in their lives to help reduce bruxism.
More about Bruxism at colgate.com