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Bruxism

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, refers to excessive grinding of the teeth and/or excessive clenching of the jaw, usually occurring when one sleeps. If you wake up with jaw pain, tension headaches, or facial pain, you may be suffering from bruxism. Some people aren’t even aware they are grinding or clenching their teeth at night, until a visit to us reveals significant tooth enamel loss or damage to restorations.

Tension, stress, and anxiety experienced during the daytime can carry over to an individual’s sleep, and lead the person to grind his or her teeth together or clench the teeth unknowingly. Regardless of the cause, however, frequent clenching and grinding wears down the chewing surfaces of the teeth, reduces tooth enamel, and can result in a cracked or chipped tooth, crown, or filling.

Treatment Options

Fortunately, there is a non-invasive and effective solution for teeth grinding, and the tooth enamel damage it can cause, in custom-fabricated nightguards. Nightguards are created through a non-invasive process that includes taking an impression of the bottom and top rows of teeth. The result is a nightguard that is flexible, comfortable, and personalized to your mouth.

Although it’s important to wear your nightguard faithfully if you grind your teeth at night, you can also follow a few self-care tips to help to prevent your teeth grinding from worsening.

  • Reduce tension and stress. Whether you take a warm bath before bed, listen to soothing music, or exercise, practicing stress-relieving activities can help alleviate stress and tension.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. In some patients, alcohol and caffeine can increase teeth-grinding tendencies.
  • Focus on relaxing jaw muscles. Make a conscious effort to keep your jaw relaxed. A warm washcloth against your cheek, sticking your tongue between your teeth, and avoiding chewing pencils, pens, and gum are all ways to train the muscles of your jaw to stay relaxed. Remember: lips together, teeth apart!

Because you may have bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it's important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care. If you suspect that bruxism is the cause for your headaches or jaw pain, please contact our office and schedule an appointment.

Call our expert team at (212) 371-1414 or contact us online for more information.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Your teeth may feel fine, but it's still important to see the dentist regularly because problems can exist without you knowing. Your smile's appearance is important, and your dentist can help keep your smile healthy and look beautiful. With so many advances in dentistry, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, missing, or misshapen teeth. Today's dentists offer many treatment choices that can help you smile with confidence, including:

    • Professional teeth whitening
    • Fillings that mimic the appearance of natural teeth
    • Tooth replacement and full smile makeovers
    • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth at least two times a day, and floss at least once!
    • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities.
    • Avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth causing more plaque and possibly cavities) and avoid tobacco (this can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and eventually lead to oral cancer).
    • Don't be afraid to brush your tongue! By brushing your tongue, you will remove food particles and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep your breath fresh.
    • Be sure to schedule your routine checkup. It is recommended that you visit the dentist every six months.
  • Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.
  • A dentist is a specialist who works to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. Your dentist has completed at least eight years of schooling, and received either a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree, or a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. If your doctor is a pediatric dentist, this means that he or she specializes in caring for children from infancy through their teen years. A pediatric dentist has received the proper education and training needed to work with young kids. Other specializations include:

    • Endodontics (root canals)
    • Oral and maxillofacial (including pathology, radiology, and surgery)
    • Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
    • Periodontics (gum disease)
    • Prosthodontics (implants)
  • Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months. Patients who are at a greater risk for oral cancer or gum disease may be required to see the dentist more than just twice a year. Your doctor will help determine how often you should visit the dentist for regular checkups.
  • Your toothbrush will eventually wear out, especially if you are brushing your teeth twice a day for two to three minutes each time. Your dentist recommends that adults and children change their toothbrush every three months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions because you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently. Patients with gum disease are encouraged to change their toothbrush every four to six weeks to keep any bacteria from spreading. After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water to kill germs and keep the bristles clean. If you've been sick, be sure to change your toothbrush as soon as possible.

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