The E-Care Dentistry Guide to Bruxism: What You Should Know About Teeth Grinding

January 9, 2023
care natural looking dentures

And How to Protect Your Teeth With a Custom Night Occlusal Guard in Kansas City

Modern life is stressful and full of worries. Daily stress can result in conditions like bruxism – the habit of subconsciously grinding or clenching your teeth together. It can happen when you’re awake or asleep – so you may not even realize you’re doing it. Some sleep disorders also can cause bruxism.

About eight percent of adults suffer from sleep bruxism – the more studied form of the condition that also affects children, according to a recent Washington Post article. If you believe you may excessively grind your teeth or clench your jaw, your dentist in Kansas City can help address this problem and fit you with a dental appliance to help prevent damaging your teeth and gums. Keep reading to learn more about this teeth-grinding condition.

How Does Teeth Grinding Cause Oral Damage?

Bruxism can contribute to tooth damage and other problems that negatively affect your quality of life.

People who frequently or severely grind their teeth may experience damaged teeth, and even loosening teeth. If you grind your teeth for long enough or hard enough, you also can wear down the chewing surface and your teeth’s enamel, which can lead to decay requiring extensive dental treatment.

Can Teeth Grinding Hurt My Jaw, Too?

Teeth grinding can absolutely hurt your jaw and give you headaches, too. One of the most common disorders to occur due to bruxism is the dysfunction of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Your TMJ serves as a sliding hinge that connects your skull and jaw bone. TMD, temporomandibular disorder, causes pain in your jaw and the muscles that move it. Some people experience a sensation of their jaw catching. Pain can creep into your head and scalp, thanks to tight jaw muscles compensating for TMD.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Because you experience teeth grinding while you’re asleep, you might not know you have bruxism. Watch for these signs and symptoms:

  • Flattened, broken, chipped, or loose teeth, with no other identifiable cause for their condition
  • Worn enamel
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tight jaw muscles, which can affect how you open or close your mouth
  • Pain in your jaw, face, or ears, including sore muscles around them
  • Dull headache in your temples
  • Feeling unrested, or waking up frequently in the middle of the night

How Can I Stop Teeth Grinding?

If you have sleep bruxism, you will need to find out the cause of it. For example, sleep arousal or movement disorders can cause teeth grinding while you snooze. For those with awake bruxism, relieving stress and being mindful of your jaw movement can help kick the habit.

To protect your teeth in the meantime, your dentist can fit you for a custom occlusal guard to wear at night – or during the day, too. Your occlusal guard will fit snugly in place on your top or bottom row of teeth and provide a protective barrier from teeth grinding. This dental appliance is sometimes called a bruxism night guard.

Your dentist could determine that an occlusal splint is a better choice for your condition. An occlusal splint is designed to help relieve TMD and not only protects your teeth, but also reduces the contraction force of your jaw muscles and decreases pressure on your temporomandibular joint.

Will My Insurance Pay for a Night Occlusal Guard?

Whether your dental insurance will cover an occlusal guard or splint greatly depends on your policy. Contact your insurance carrier for more information, or talk to your dentist’s team to verify coverage.

Even if you pay out-of-pocket, the cost of an occlusal guard or splint is likely far less expensive than extensive dental work and restorative treatments in the future. Make protecting your teeth from bruxism part of your preventative dental care routine.

Talk to Our Kansas City-Area Dentists About a Bruxism Night Guard Made Just for You

If your teeth grinding habit has become a major problem, the dentists at E-Care Dentistry in Olathe, Kansas can help you! During your preventative care visits, our team will monitor the condition of your teeth to ensure you aren’t damaging your enamel or chewing surfaces as you grind or clench your jaw.

Our experienced dentists also can offer helpful treatment options to reduce the stress and strain on your teeth and jaw, such as a night occlusal guard, all while you stay comfortable in our spa-like office environment.

To experience our excellent service and patient-focused care for yourself, request an appointment online, or call our office.