Do you wake up every morning and feel jaw pain? You start to wonder what causes it. Is it your tooth or your jaw muscle? When you feel sleepiness all throughout the day and jaw or face pain, it is more likely that you have a condition called bruxism or teeth grinding. Clenching or grinding occasionally is normal but when it happens regularly, it can cause damage to your teeth making you susceptible to a lot of oral health issues.
Bruxism can happen to anyone but some people have increased risk of this condition due to several factors such as:
- Stress. When you are stressed out, it can increase your risk of anxiety and can lead to teeth grinding.
- Age. Teeth grinding is a common thing to do during younger years but it will normally go away as you age.
- Personality type. People who are aggressive, competitive or hyperactive are more prone to bruxism.
- Family history. If one of the family members has bruxism, chances are, you are also at risk to have it.
- Medication. Some antidepressants may cause bruxism in the long run. However, the possibility of this is lower compared to other risk factors.
People with bruxism may not feel the inconvenience of having it because it occurs when they are sleeping; however, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Bruxism is not a serious condition but severe bruxism may lead to several problems such as:
- Damage to your teeth, crowns or jaw
- Tension type headache
- Severe jaw pain
- TMJ disorders
- Loose teeth
Sometimes, in extreme cases, bruxism can cause problems with your speaking, swallowing and chewing. Since bruxism happens at night, you might not realize that you have it but here are some symptoms you should watch out for such as:
- Flattened teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Jaw or neck pain
- Pain in your ear but you don’t have any problem with your ears at all
- Dull headache
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your check
- Sleep deprivation
When should you see a doctor?
There are still no definite causes of bruxism but it might be due to several risk factors. Sometimes, mild bruxism can be dealt at home but there are cases on which you should pay your doctor a visit. If you experience any symptoms or feel that your bruxism symptoms affect your daily life, see your dentist or doctor immediately. Your doctor may give you suggestions and recommendations on how to treat bruxism and manage its symptoms such as:
- Wearing a nightguard
- Taking a warm bath before sleeping
- Learning new habits
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
- Not eating chew and hard foods
- Giving yourself a massage
Teeth grinding or bruxism is a common condition, but if it starts to affect your other activities, consult with your doctor or dentist immediately. They can help diagnose your condition and treat bruxism. There are lots of possible causes of bruxism and early treatment should be sought in order to address the issue before it can cause serious dental problems.