We love our morning cup of coffee. Whether we prefer a Keurig pod, some Folger’s drip, or fresh ground Caribou, it starts our morning off with a kick. As any barista will tell you, fresh ground coffee will give you the richest, freshest taste. As your dentist, I can tell you that fresh ground coffee is perfectly acceptable (brushing afterwards helps to avoid staining), but there is one type of grinding that you should put a stop to immediately. What is it?
Are You a Bruxer?
If you grind or clench your teeth, the answer is YES! Bruxism happens unconsciously and occurs both day and night. Mild and occasional bruxism may not require treatment, but for those who constantly grind and clench — and keep in mind that, if you do it at night, you may not even be aware of the problem — it’s important to seek treatment before it leads to jaw disorders, chronic headaches, and damaged teeth.
Know the Symptoms
Even if you grind and clench during the day, you may be unaware. If you do so at night, the only way to know is if a sleeping partner mentions it. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may want to make an appointment sooner rather than later:
- Audible grinding that can be heard by others
- Flattened or worn-down teeth
- Tooth sensitivity that may be the result of worn-down enamel
- Achy or tight jaw muscles
- Jaw, neck, face, and ear pain
- Persistent headaches
- Daytime fatigue
Your Risk Factors
Most people occasionally clench their teeth. From the sound of nails on a chalkboard to a terrifying scene in a good thriller, we can’t help it. It’s those who do it often enough to cause damage who need to be concerned. While bruxism can affect anyone, there are certain risk factors to be aware of:
- Excess stress or anger
- Age, as bruxism is more common in children
- Medications, particularly psychiatric medicines
- Neuromuscular disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
- Genetics, as sleep bruxism tends to occur in families
- Sleep Apnea
I’ve Got You Covered
Once we figure out why you grind and clench, we can come up with a plan that will save your teeth and address your pain. If a misalignment is behind your bruxism, then I may recommend orthodontic treatment. If it’s something else, an orthotic device might do the trick. Either way, we can put an end to your daily (or nightly) grind.
If you suspect that you may be grinding your teeth, be sure to contact my office to schedule an appointment. I look forward to seeing you!