What Is Bruxism?

It’s a weird word and one many people haven’t heard of before, but over 25 million Americans actually experience bruxism on a regular basis.

The dictionary definition of bruxism is “the involuntary or habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep.”

Basically, it occurs when you grind or even clench your teeth while concentrating, stressed or sometimes unconsciously during sleep. It’s a serious problem for many people and even more concerning since bruxism can cause pain and other symptoms, and patients have no idea they’re grinding their teeth at all because it’s occurring while they’re asleep.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism?

Because it’s so common during sleep, it’s important to pay attention to the signs or symptoms caused by grinding or clenching the teeth in order to determine if you may be unconsciously doing it.

  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Sore facial muscles
  • Facial pain or soreness upon waking
  • Chronic headaches upon waking
  • Soreness or pain in the ear, neck or even shoulders
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Fractured or cracked teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Worn-down enamel and teeth
  • Damage to dental restorations such as crowns, bridges or implants
  • Jaw pain
  • Difficulty opening the jaw wide
  • Clicking or popping sound when opening and closing the mouth

How Bruxism Can Become a TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJD, occurs when there is pain and dysfunction in the joint location right in front of the ears that connects the jaw to the skull on each side. This complicated joint can become painful and inflamed when teeth grinding and clenching cause overuse or strain or disturb the alignment of the bite.

How Is Bruxism or TMJD Treated?

In most cases, the best solution to prevent more damage from teeth grinding is with the use of a custom-made mouth guard to be worn during sleep. It prevents the teeth from damaging each other and keeps your bite secure throughout the night.

For more information about bruxism, TMJD or mouth guards, call us today at (425) 374-1111. Dr. Norman is passionate about helping patients live free from pain with beautiful, healthy smiles.