How To Tell if You’re a Covert Bruxer
Before you continue reading, pause for a moment and check in with your facial posture.
- Is your mouth hanging open, or are your lips gently closed?
- Are your teeth touching, or are they slightly parted?
- Can you feel your tongue resting against the roof of your mouth, or is it resting on your bottom teeth?
You might be surprised to learn that your teeth shouldn’t touch when you’re in a normal, relaxed position. Your mouth should be closed, teeth slightly apart, lips gently touching, and tongue resting on your upper palate. Breathing through your nose should feel easy.
There are several reasons why your facial posture may be atypical, but bruxism can be the culprit if your jaw is often clenched and tense when you’re at rest.
What is bruxism, and why does it happen?
Bruxism is characterized by the grinding, gnashing, and clenching of the teeth. There are three causes for most cases of bruxism, although you could be experiencing a combination of triggers.
Remember the last time you stubbed your toe on the coffee table? You might have shouted some colorful language and held your throbbing foot, but you probably also gritted your teeth as you waited for the pain to dissipate.
Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth are both natural physical responses to stress and anxiety or any form of physical or mental pain and discomfort. The problem with these reactive behaviors is when you experience chronic stress or pain and constantly grit and grind your teeth as a response.
Sleep bruxism can be linked to chronic stress and physical pain or an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea. Some medications can even contribute to sleep bruxism. Bruxing at night is most common in children, but adults can certainly experience it too. In fact, sleep bruxing in adults may be underdiagnosed because the symptoms aren’t so obvious to the person or their partner.
Malocclusion, or a bad bite, is the third factor that can cause or exacerbate bruxing behaviors. A poorly aligned bite means your teeth are much more likely to rub or grind against one another, especially if some of your teeth sit too high or you have a slight underbite. Usually, a bite misalignment coincides with behavioral and/or nighttime bruxism.
Why is bruxing a big deal, and can bruxism be cured?
Typical red flags of bruxism include:
- Teeth touching or rubbing (not all bruxers grind hard).
- Obvious teeth grinding and clenching.
- Generalized soreness in your jaw and teeth.
- Several hairline fractures or cracks in your teeth.
- Abnormal wearing down of the edges of your teeth.
If you suspect you’re a bruxer, don’t ignore your symptoms or simply try to stop the problem without help from your dentist. It’s essential you get your symptoms evaluated by a dentist, because even mild bruxism can permanently damage your oral health.
Unmanaged bruxism can wear away your tooth enamel, crack and break your teeth, damage dental restorations (e.g. fillings, crowns), encourage tooth decay and gum disease, and even harm your jaw’s temporomandibular joints.
Bruxism can sometimes be cured if the underlying cause can be treated. In some cases, bruxism may be such a deeply ingrained habitual response that the symptoms can only be managed. Either way, your dentist can find a solution to repair any damage done and stop further damage from occurring.
What are the treatment options for bruxism?
Ada Smile Place’s dentists are armed with the knowledge, tools, and modern treatment options to treat behavioral, sleep, and malocclusion-related bruxism effectively.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
Myofunctional therapy addresses the root problem of bruxism and related problems like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) and obstructive sleep apnea. You’ll relearn normal oral and facial posture, strengthen weak facial muscles, and improve your bite alignment.
Night guards are mouthguard-like oral appliances that are specifically designed to stop bruxing at night. Night guards are customized to match your teeth and jaw shape through a special molding process that ensures a precise and comfortable fit. It will protect your teeth from grinding and gently cradle your bite in the proper posture while you sleep.
Night guards can also help relieve your TMJ disorder and obstructive sleep apnea.
If crooked, poorly aligned teeth contribute to your bruxing behaviors, our dentists can find an orthodontic solution to fix the problem permanently. This may be coupled with myofunctional therapy or the use of specialized night guards that can be worn over traditional braces.
Restorative and Cosmetic Repairs
We offer a complete menu of restorative and cosmetic dentistry services to repair any sort of damage bruxism has already caused. Even if your teeth are badly worn down, chipped, or cracked, fear not—our dentists can revive your oral health, and you’ll soon regain your confident smile.
At-home therapeutic care is important in managing bruxism, especially if your bruxing behavior is directly linked to stress and anxiety. In addition to following your at-home myofunctional therapy exercise guidelines, start practicing stress-relief methods, such as meditation, exercises, deep breathing, and even speaking with a professional. A therapist or psychologist can be invaluable if you’re having difficulty determining what’s causing your stress or how to manage it effectively.
Schedule an evaluation for your bruxing with our dentists in Ada, OK.
Take the first step toward stopping your bruxism by setting up a consultation with one of our dentists. Schedule a visit right now by calling our office or using this easy online booking form.