At some point in our lives, we all grind or clench our teeth, usually in anger or frustration. Some people, however, do so constantly and consistently, often without knowing that it has become a habit. Bruxism, the habit of grinding and clenching your teeth, can lead to extreme discomfort, structural damage to your teeth, and undue stress on your maxillofacial muscles and joints. Farmington Hills dentist Dr. Aziza Askari discusses bruxism and its effects on your quality of life.
The nighttime grinding and clenching of the teeth is symptomatic of a malfunctioning chewing reflex. This reflex is turned off during sleep in most people. When sufferers of bruxism sleep or nap, however, the reflex nerve control center in the brain shuts off and allows reflex pathways to remain active. With nothing to chew on, your teeth continually move in a chewing motion, but only come into contact with each other. Bruxism is rarely diagnosed, and often not diagnosed at all, because it is only one possibility of tooth wear. It requires a trained professional, such as Dr. Askari, to be able to spot the difference between normal or traditional tooth wear and wear caused by bruxing.
Damages from Bruxism
If you do not notice that you grind your teeth at night, and you still sleep soundly, you may question the need to seek treatment for something that seems trivial. If you do not experience a sore jaw, neck or shoulder pain, or intense headaches as a result of your bruxism, then you’re lucky. Aside from pressure headaches, bruxism can also contribute to gum recession and tooth loss. It directly damages the soft tissue in your mouth and also leads to loose teeth or deep pockets of infection where bacteria can colonize and destroy supporting bone.
Treatment for bruxism can usually be implemented through the use of a mouthguard that can be worn during your sleep. Every case is different, however, and treatment will depend on Dr. Askari’s comprehensive diagnostic exam and her consultation with you to determine the best treatment options.