Bruxism is a common dental complaint which affects 30 to 40 million people in the U.S. alone. It occurs when you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, often unconsciously in your sleep.
At Green Hills Dentistry in Allentown, Dr. Forgosh works with patients to develop a specialized treatment plan to address the causes of bruxism and find the best way to preserve teeth.
The only time your teeth are supposed to touch is when you swallow. Even when you chew, there is food between your teeth. Simply put, if you catch yourself with your teeth together, you are clenching. Even lightly holding or rubbing your teeth together can, over time, fatigue your muscles, wear down your teeth, and potentially cause problems in your jaw joints.
Grinding your teeth is an even more destructive process that is triggered by an imbalanced bite. When teeth do not align or come together properly, your body can potentially react by unconsciously clenching or grinding. Back teeth are designed to support a tremendous amount of pressure along their long axis. Like a hammer and nail, if the forces are in the right direction, your teeth will remain stable. However, if they hit on an angle, they can fracture, split, or become loose.
Signs of Bruxism
The most common symptom that patients exhibit when they have bruxism is a headache, especially after a night of teeth grinding. However, there are a number of other signs that patients who have bruxism sometimes exhibit, including:
- Muscle aches
- Enlarged facial muscles or swelling
- Discomfort of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- Shoulder and neck stiffness
- Ear pain
- Facial pain
- Sleep disorders
- A grinding sound at night
- Clicking or popping in the jaw
Eventually, those with bruxism have teeth that are adversely affected by the condition. You may notice abnormal wear or mobility, and your teeth could even begin to fracture. Some patients’ bruxism is so severe that they lose teeth.
Treatments for Bruxism
Several possible treatment options are available for bruxism. Before recommending treatment Dr. Forgosh will perform a thorough examination to determine what is causing your particular signs and symptoms. Sometimes custom-made night guards are the best solution to protect your teeth.A properly designed night guard can protect your teeth from grinding and reduce pain in your jaw muscle and temporomandibular joint. Changes in symptoms with one of these appliances, can tell us a lot about your problem, confirm the diagnosis, and help us develop a definitive solution.
Night guards, however, only work while they are being worn. Further, it is important to only wear them only while sleeping (unless otherwise instructed) because they can actually move teeth if worn too long. This is why Dr. Forgosh works to uncover and treat the underlying cause of clenching and grinding. If your bruxism has been caused by an imbalanced bite, Dr. Forgosh will develop a predictable approach to correct your teeth alignment. This may involve precisely reshaping the teeth that are interfering with the bite, but could also include orthodontics or other approaches that meet the needs of the specific case.
In an ideal occlusion, back teeth only touch when you are fully closed, with the direction of force going straight down their roots, and the jaw joints seated fully in their sockets. With careful planning and strict attention to detail, Dr. Forgosh can find the easiest way to establish a perfected bite with a “mutually protected occlusion” where the front and back teeth protect each other and the muscles remain calm, relaxed, and in harmony with the rest of the system.
Schedule Your Appointment at Green Hills Dentistry Today
If you wake up in the morning with sore teeth or an achy jaw, you may be exhibiting signs of bruxism. Dr. Forgosh can provide effective treatment options that can not only lessen your painful symptoms but also prevent further tooth damage caused by clenching or grinding.
If you’re an Allentown, PA, resident looking for a local dentist who offers treatment for teeth grinding, schedule a consultation with Dr. Forgosh today.