grinding teeth clenching teeth bruxism

Our own sleep habits can remain a mystery to us. We may need a disgruntled partner or roommate to enlighten us to the truth about something mild, like snoring, to something more serious, like grinding or clenching your teeth.

Bruxism is the act of grinding or clenching your teeth, especially at nighttime. Many people who suffer from bruxism can be completely unaware that they have an actual, treatable health condition. In fact, studies have shown that as many as eight percent of adults and a third of children grind their teeth at night.

While a complaint from an outside observer can be helpful, it’s not the only form of diagnosis. There are other signs you can watch out for if you think you may suffer from bruxism.

Signs You May Clench or Grind Your Teeth

Grinding or clenching can result in serious problems for your teeth if left untreated. If you think you may grind or clench at night, keep on the lookout for symptoms such as:

  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Tense jaw muscles
  • Popping or clicking sounds in your jaw

Beyond these symptoms, there are other signs of bruxism that dentists are trained to find, including:

  • Dental attrition (loss of tooth hardness caused by clenching, grinding, or chewing)
  • Tooth abrasion (loss of tooth hardness caused by something other than attrition)
  • Worn tooth enamel

Keep in mind that if you’re unsure whether or not you’re battling bruxism, the only way to be certain is to see a dentist and get a diagnosis. 

Treatment Options for Grinding Your Teeth

If you are grinding or clenching your teeth, what are your options for treatment? It depends on the extent of the damage caused before diagnosis. Typical treatment options include:

  • Getting a night guard: Night guards form a barrier between your teeth to prevent grinding. Although similar to mouth guards you might wear in sports, night guards have a different purpose. Sports mouth guards are built to protect your teeth from injury due to an outside force while you’re exercising; night guards are built to protect your teeth from injury due to grinding and clenching while you’re sleeping. Our night guard dentists will take impressions of your teeth and customize a night guard just for you. They’ll make sure it fits well and doesn’t bother you while you sleep.
  • Fixing your chipped teeth: If bruxism has already damaged your teeth, you’ll need to get them fixed before you get fitted for a night guard. Our dentists use dental crowns to fix broken or fragile teeth.
  • Getting treatment for TMJ pain: If you suffer from a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (also known as TMD), it may be due at least in part to bruxism. Your temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. The force that grinding and clenching your teeth puts on your jaw can result in TMJ pain. Our dentists can treat your TMJ disorder along with your bruxism.

Stop Grinding/Clenching Your Teeth Today

The key to managing bruxism is to catch it before it’s done too much damage. If you suspect you might be grinding or clenching your teeth at night, don’t delay. Our experienced West Michigan night guard dentists can help you stop grinding or clenching your teeth. With four practices in West Michigan, we have the capability of handling all of your family’s dental needs. To schedule an appointment, call MI Smiles Dental at (616) 974-4990.