When you’re angry, stressed, in pain, or otherwise upset, clenching your teeth is a natural reaction. The stress causes tension in your jaw muscles, which can temporarily force your teeth together.
However, when you grind and clench your teeth consistently, even when you’re calm or sleeping, then you may suffer from bruxism—or chronic nighttime teeth-grinding. If so, then teeth-grinding is a serious problem that can have drastic consequences for your oral health, and you should seek help from your dentist as soon as possible.
The Cycle of Bruxism and Jaw Pain
Your lower jaw is the only part of your jaw that moves, and it does so by pivoting on two large joints known as temporomandibular joints (TMJs). Under normal circumstances, these joints allow your jaw to open, close, and move smoothly. But under undue pressure and stress, such as from constantly grinding your teeth, your TMJs can become exhausted, damaged, inflamed, misaligned, or more.
This condition is known as TMJ disorder, which can lead to a host of chronic pains and exacerbate bruxism, creating a vicious cycle of increasingly worse teeth-grinding and jaw pain.
How Can You Stop Teeth-Grinding?
The good news for patients with bruxism is that treating the condition is often as simple as wearing a custom-designed oral appliance as you sleep. Known as a night guard, your appliance can help protect your teeth and TMJs by preventing your teeth from grinding together as you sleep. If your bruxism has already caused damage to your teeth or jaw joints, then your dentist may also recommend a more involved treatment plan to restore proper balance and harmony to your bite.
When you do it more than just occasionally, grinding your teeth can become a serious problem to your dental health. To stop teeth-grinding, schedule a visit today by calling our dental office in Sunnyvale, CA at (408) 720-0900.