Bruxism is the involuntary action of grinding or clenching your teeth. If this happens on a regular basis, it causes severe damage to your teeth, changes your bite relationship, weakens your muscles and lastly damages your jaw joint. Most people develop bruxism due to an inability to deal with stress or anxiety. Misalignment of teeth can also increase the chances of bruxism.
Teeth grinding can cause abrasion to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. This abnormal wear and tear will prematurely age and loosen your teeth, and open them to problems such as hypersensitivity (from the small cracks that form, exposing your dentin). Bruxism can also lead to chronic jaw and facial pain, as well as headaches.
If no one has told you that you grind your teeth, here are a few clues to help you figure out if you suffer from Bruxism:
- Your jaw is often sore, or you hear popping sounds when you open and close your mouth.
- You wake up every morning with a headache/ear pain
- You have sores on the inside of your cheek due to biting
- Your teeth look abnormally short or worn down.
- All your teeth have started to become sensitive
- You notice small dents in your tongue.
- A common therapy involves use of a special appliance worn while sleeping called a nightguard.
- Biofeedback, and behaviour modification, such as tongue exercises and learning how to properly align your tongue, teeth and lips.
- If the condition has progressed and is giving discomfort or pain in the jaw muscles, muscle relaxants may help.
- More serious conditions involve improperly aligned joints or dislocated jaws. The most extreme form of TMD involves an arthritic condition of the jaw joint. In these cases, jaw surgery may be required to correct the condition.
Sports Guards Sports accidents are common, and a bite guard is especially beneficial to athletes who participate in high-contact activities. It is not uncommon to hear of athletes who have sustained serious damage to the teeth and tissues of the mouth that could have been easily prevented or minimized by a mouth guard. Football, hockey, soccer and basketball are examples of just a few high-risk sports in which participants should wear mouth protection.
As an added benefit, bite guards are generally composed of materials that are naturally absorptive to force, meaning the guards not only protect the teeth, but may also lessen the force to the entire skull and brain should the wearer suffer an injury.