Bruxism is the condition of clenching or grinding your teeth, and can range from mild to severe. It can occur when you are awake, although unconsciously, or while asleep. Sleep bruxism is classed as a sleep related movement disorder. Those with sleep bruxism are more likely to snore or have breath stoppages (sleep apnea). Some cases may be severe enough to damage teeth, or produce headache or jaw disorders. Bruxism is most often the result of stress and tension. Knowing the symptoms of bruxism is important so that timely dental care can prevent more serious complications.
What To Look For
- tooth sensitivity
- dull daily headaches
- pain in the jaw or face
- worn tooth enamel
- grinding sound heard by partner at night
- sore or tired jaw muscles
Seeing your dentist is recommended. To prepare for your appointment, make a list of the symptoms you are having, and gather medical records, including a list of medications.
Your dentist will check for signs of bruxism; including dental abnormalities, the condition of teeth and underlying bone (using an X-ray) and the tenderness of jaw muscles. She will also ask you questions about sleep habits, general dental health, and physical health. A dental exam may detect other conditions, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, or other dental disorders. Further testing can be done by a sleep specialist, such as a sleep assessment, or measurement of jaw muscle activity while asleep.
If treatment is required, it could involve dental options, other therapies, or medication. It is more likely that use of a mouthguard is the most effective option. This will protect tooth surfaces from further injury while sleeping. A mouthguard can be custom formed and made from durable hard acrylic or from soft materials.