Teeth grinding, a condition known as bruxism, occurs when you grind your upper and lower teeth together. For most people, this happens subconsciously at night. In these cases, the condition is known as sleep bruxism. Teeth pain from grinding is common, and the condition can cause many other oral health side effects as well. These may include jaw pain, ear pain, headaches, neck pain, facial pain, jaw and facial soreness, and — in serious cases — temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). TMJ is a condition caused by dysfunction of the temporomandibular joints which can exacerbate these painful symptoms.
One of the most common symptoms of bruxism is tooth pain and tooth sensitivity; for some people, this may be the only noticeable symptom. Finding effective ways to treat bruxism will greatly improve your dental health and decrease your discomfort.
How Does Grinding Affect the Teeth?
Teeth grinding and teeth clenching put extreme pressure on your teeth and jaw. Over time, this wears down your tooth enamel and dentin, which leaves you more vulnerable to cavities and decay. Tooth enamel is the layer that protects your teeth and dentin is the layer underneath the enamel. This unnatural wearing of the teeth can also lead to tooth sensitivity and tooth pain. If tooth wear persists without treatment, the nerves of the teeth may become exposed.
Additionally, pressure from clenching and grinding can cause cracked teeth and other forms of tooth damage. You may also notice toothaches and soreness in your facial muscles after you grind your teeth.
How to Treat Tooth Pain from Grinding
Many treatment options for bruxism aim to reduce side effects since it is often difficult to stop bruxism completely. However, a few dental treatment options are designed to stop grinding and clenching by addressing the root cause.
If you believe you have bruxism, it’s important to visit your dentist. He or she can confirm a bruxism diagnosis as well as check for tooth damage. If you’re experiencing tooth pain or other negative side effects of bruxism, your dentist can direct you to effective treatment options. Additionally, if you are experiencing tooth pain and do not know the cause, visit your dentist right away. Treatment options for teeth pain from grinding include:
A night guard is an oral appliance that you wear on either your upper or lower teeth, typically at night. This protects your teeth and jaw muscles from damage and strain. Custom-fit mouthguards are most effective because they are crafted to fit each individual’s teeth and mouth perfectly. Your dentist may fit you for a night guard in the dental office, or you can get a professionally made night guard online from Pro Teeth Guard. You’ll take an impression of your teeth at home, giving you a professionally made, custom-fit night guard.
If your bruxism progresses to TMJ, your dentist may recommend a splint. This can help improve your jaw alignment and function, which will help reduce tooth pain. A splint can also relax your jaw muscles and relieve pressure. There are several different types of splints for varying levels of TMJ and your dentist or doctor will be able to assess your condition and make recommendations accordingly.
Sometimes, stress can exacerbate or even cause bruxism. Effective stress management techniques may help you grind and clench your teeth less. Some stress management techniques to try include exercise, meditation, yoga, or talk therapy.
The Mayo Clinic recommends adopting lifestyle changes to help treat bruxism. These may include reducing stress, avoiding stimulating substances in the evening, practicing good sleep habits, asking your sleep partner to listen for grinding, and scheduling regular dental exams.
Your dentist may recommend other treatment techniques. He or she may also combine a variety of treatment techniques to help you reduce your jaw and teeth pain from grinding and improve your quality of life.
What Causes Grinding?
Regardless of the severity of your grinding, identifying the root cause of the bruxism is a useful step in treating it. It’s often difficult to determine what exactly is causing bruxism. Some causes of bruxism include:
- Stress and anxiety
- Certain medications, such as antidepressants
- Crooked or misaligned teeth
- Other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
- Other medical conditions and nutritional deficiencies
An article published in the Swiss Dental Journal cited common risk factors for bruxism: “Among others, emotional stress, consumption of tobacco, alcohol, or coffee, sleep apnea syndrome, and anxiety disorders were recognized as important factors among adults. In children and adolescents, apart from distress, behavioral abnormalities and sleep disturbances predominated” (Kuhn & Turp 2018). When possible, removing some of these risk factors may reduce your risk of bruxism.
Speak to your dentist and your primary care provider to try to determine what is causing your bruxism. While treating side effects is important, the best treatment is to eliminate the cause.
Protecting Teeth from Grinding
Along with headaches and sore jaw joints, one of the most common side effects of bruxism is tooth pain. When your teeth consistently grind together, worn enamel and pressure can cause teeth pain and damage. It’s important to address the teeth pain from grinding to prevent dental problems and improve your quality of life. You can avoid future dental work such as fillings and root canals when you treat the bruxism or TMJ disorder effectively.
Night guards are one of the most common and effective ways to protect your teeth from the effects of bruxism. At Pro Teeth Guard, you can get a custom-fit mouthguard at an affordable price. We make our night guards in a professional dental lab, and every night guard is guaranteed to fit comfortably with our 110% money-back guarantee.
- Kuhn, M., & Türp, J. C. (2018). Risk factors for bruxism. Swiss dental journal, 128(2), 118–124.
- Mayo Clinic Writing Staff (2017). Bruxism (teeth grinding). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356100