Do worries about the economy or your work, stress you out? Do you wake with headaches, sore jaw muscles, or sensitive teeth? Have you noticed chips in your enamel or broken teeth, fillings or crowns?
You may be experiencing a behavior that is called bruxism. Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity, which includes clenching and grinding of the teeth in a horizontal direction, using forces that are damaging to the teeth and muscles. Bruxism is considered the most common sleep disorder.
As a dentist, I look for damage to the teeth that may be caused by bruxism. Often my patients are unaware of this behavior, unless informed by their sleeping partners. Some common signs in bruxers may include:
- Notched teeth
- Chipped teeth or restorations
- Pain in teeth, muscles or jaw joints
- Mobility of teeth
- Broken crowns or fractured teeth
- Recession of gums
Causes of bruxism include stress, anxiety, worry, depression, bite problems such as uneven bite, medical conditions and some medications. Bruxism can be further complicated if it includes a disorder such as sleep apnea. In these patients a sleep study is needed for full treatment of the disorders.
Treatments for bruxism vary from conservative methods such as a protective hard acrylic night guard appliance or bite adjustments that help to equilibrate the minor bite discrepancies, to complete orthodontics, repair of broken teeth with crowns, or full mouth rehabilitation to recreate the most stable bite, lost due to the parafunctional habit of bruxism.
If you feel you might be suffering with these symptoms, make an appointment for an evaluation today.
Dr. Elizabeth J Fleming & the staff at Desert Ridge Smiles 20950 N. Tatum Blvd Ste. 280 Phoenix, AZ 85050 480-860-4300