Teeth grinding is one of the most common reasons why people see their dentist in Scarborough. The problem is often caused by anxiety or excessive stress. Left untreated, it can lead to headaches, TMJ disorder, or even tooth loss. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers a number of ways to manage the condition, including a dentist-prescribed nighttime mouthguard.
How to Know If You’re Grinding Your Teeth at Night
One of the most challenging aspects of treating nighttime teeth grinding is diagnosing the problem in the first place. A common warning sign is a dull headache and jaw discomfort upon awakening. Often the sufferer’s partner is the first to suspect the condition.
Only a qualified medical professional can provide a formal diagnosis of nighttime teeth grinding. Your dentist can help by performing a thorough oral examination. One telltale symptom is teeth that appear cracked or worn down.
Common Causes of Nighttime Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding is most often a symptom of a deeper problem. Some of the more common causes of the condition include:
- Anxiety or prolonged stress: your body has a number of ways for dealing with nervous tension. Common coping mechanisms include fidgeting, pacing, and teeth clenching or grinding.
- Excessive caffeine consumption: caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that millions of Americans consume on a daily basis. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with an occasional cup of coffee or soda, of course. But overindulging in these products can have serious and ongoing health consequences.
- Medication side effects: for example, antidepressants such as Paxil or Prozac can sometimes make teeth grinding more likely.
- Hereditary factors: research suggests that bruxism, or teeth grinding, may be passed down from parents to their children.
- Dental misalignment: people with crooked or misaligned teeth may be at greater risk for problems such as bruxism.
Treating the Problem
The first step to overcoming nighttime teeth grinding is to see your dentist or other healthcare professional. He or she may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:
- A nighttime mouthguard: these are custom-made medical appliances that your dentist designs to fit your oral profile. A mouthguard can help to protect your teeth from bruxism-related problems.
- Medication changes: your dentist may suspect that your bruxism is a side effect of a formula you’re currently taking. If so, then he or she may recommend changing dosages or switching to a different medicine entirely.
- Authorizing a sleep study: your dentist may refer you to a sleep clinic if he or she suspects that your bruxism is part of a larger sleep-related problem.
- Lifestyle coaching tips: this approach usually focuses on changing the habits or behaviors that led to the problem in the first place. Your dentist may recommend systematic relaxation, counseling or support group therapy, or reducing your caffeine intake.
Nighttime teeth grinding can lead to other health problems, unless it’s addressed in a timely manner. There’s no reason to suffer in silence. Make an appointment with your dentist or other healthcare professional if you suspect you’re suffering from this condition. You’ll soon be well on your way to enjoying relief.
About the Practice
The staff at White Willow Family and Cosmetic Dentistry has the equipment and expertise needed to treat a wide range of oral health conditions, including nighttime teeth grinding. You can reach their office online or by calling 1-416-285-4545.