There are two different classifications of bruxism (BRUK-SIZ-UM) awake and sleep. They both have to do with the grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth, the main difference is quite obvious, being whether you are awake or asleep.
When someone grinds their teeth while they are asleep it is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. Many people who suffer from this often also suffer from sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep) and snoring.
It is not completely understood what causes people to develop the physical habit of grinding their teeth, it may be a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors.
Awake bruxism can be caused by emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger or frustration. It could also be a habit created during deep concentration.
Sleep bruxism may be a sleep-related chewing activity associated with arousals during sleep.
Severe bruxism can lead to jaw disorders, damaged teeth, headaches and other problems. More mild cases may not cause health issues.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of teeth grinding especially for those that experience it in their sleep and may not be aware that it happens at all.
Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:
- Significant tooth damage: flattened (tooth enamel being worn down), fractured, chipped, pain, sensitivity or looseness
- Teeth grinding loud enough to wake up your partner from their sleep
- Tight jaw muscles or locked jaw
- Jaw, neck or face soreness
- Earache pain, not actually being caused by the ear
- Dull temple headache
- Damage to the inside of the cheek from chewing
- Sleep disruption
Grinding your teeth at night can often be a side effect of untreated chronic stress. This condition, which is known as bruxism, can put your mouth at increased risk of damage and dysfunction. This might start with dental fractures and chips that are prone to tooth decay. The severity of the damage to the tooth enamel will largely influence the restoration method that Dr. Spear presents to you.
It might be possible for a chip or a minor fracture to be repaired with a standard amalgam or composite dental filling. If a large amount of the biting surface has been compromised, Dr. Spear might recommend repairing the damaged tooth with a special inlay or onlay restoration.
If a large amount of the tooth enamel has been damaged, Dr. Spear might recommend a total restoration of the tooth with a dental crown. This will completely replace the tooth’s enamel layer with an alternative dental material.
Going forward, you might want to consider sleeping with a dental guard in your mouth to protect your unaffected teeth from potential harm. It’s also worth noting that without some form of remediation or prevention, the chronic tension applied to your temporomandibular joints could eventually lead to a TMJ disorder.
If you live in the Fort Worth, Texas, area and your teeth have been damaged by grinding, call 817.920.1488 to have it evaluated and treated at the office of Brent A. Spear, DDS.