If you find yourself clenching your jaw throughout the day or you wake up with sensitive teeth, sore jaw, or a headache, you might suffer from bruxism — grinding, clenching or gnashing of the teeth. This teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching habit is a common condition that affects up to one-third of adults in the daytime and more than 1 in 10 in their sleep. While there are many consequences of Bruxism, one of the worst for dental health are broken or chipped teeth. If you have loose, fractured, or broken teeth, visiting an endodontist might be a good move. Below, we detail how an Endodontist can help with clenching and grinding teeth and how you can avoid this common issue.
Reasons for Clenching and Grinding Teeth
Many people clench and grind their teeth during sleep without knowing it, making it all the more annoying. Stress and anxiety are the most common reasons for these behaviors, but neck issues and sleep problems, like snoring and sleep apnea, can also cause you to develop the conditions. It’s a common problem that affects around 10% of the U.S. population, according to the American Sleep Association. In other cases, certain medications, such as antidepressants containing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can also result in dental issues.
Awake bruxism can be caused by strong emotions, such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, or tension. It can also be a strategy for coping with stress or a habit that develops when you’re concentrating. Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine, and taking recreational drugs can also be responsible for causing these problems.
Outcomes of These Behaviors
Often, these actions cause you to wake up with an aching head or jaw, but the results can be more serious. Disrupting your rest can create numerous other health problems. Your teeth can become worn down, fractured, chipped, or loose in the sockets.
You may also develop pain or sensitivity in your gum or jaw area, or sores in your mouth from catching sections of your inner cheek between your teeth. The long-term effects of teeth clenching or grinding include chronic headaches, tooth loss, and other dental problems.
What an Endodontist Can Do
If you schedule an appointment with our endodontists early enough, it may be possible to address any dental problems before they lead to complete tooth loss. The endodontists may suggest you try a bite guard — basic versions are available at your local pharmacy. The guard acts like a cushion between your upper and lower teeth and may be all you need to stop the further breakdown of your teeth.
If a damaged tooth is caught before the crack, split, or fracture extends beyond the pulp, it may be treatable with a crown, or a root canal and a crown to prevent the crack from spreading. However, once the damage extends below the gum line, it is no longer treatable. In this case, the tooth can’t be saved and will need to be extracted.
How to Prevent These Problems
An early visit to an endodontist can help you address clenching and grinding problems before they become untreatable. Some of the ways you can stop or minimize the issues include:
- Wearing a mouthguard at night, which can absorb the force of your biting and help minimize damage.
- Behavioral changes, such as learning to rest your tongue, teeth, and lips in a way that can help relieve discomfort and reduce the impulse to grind your teeth.
- Bite adjustment, which can help reduce the chance of grinding.
- Taking medication that can help alleviate pain and reduce the stress that causes grinding.
- Stress reduction methods such as exercise or meditation, or psychological treatment to help manage your tension.
It’s important that you don’t wait until your teeth clenching and grinding lead to fractured, worn teeth and other health problems that can develop.
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