Put away those tablets and make an appointment with your dentist!
Do you ever wake up with an unexplained headache? Or do you sometimes suffer from an aching jaw?
Either of these may indicate you are grinding your teeth at night… without any idea you are doing it. A good dentist will be able to tell straight away – if your partner hasn’t complained first, that is! In most cases the habit, known as bruxism, develops during periods of anxiety and stress.
If the root cause of your worries cannot quickly be eliminated and tooth grinding becomes increasingly frequent, you will wear down the enamel and eventually the biting surfaces of both upper and lower teeth – leading to general oral discomfort and bite problems.
That, in turn, may limit what you can comfortably eat – affecting your diet and general health! So what might initially seem to be a minor problem does need to be taken seriously – and it is one that is normally easily solved.
Your dentist may suggest fitting a mouth guard or splint to prevent further damage to your teeth.
These are worn only at night and come in various types; the one that is right for you may depend on the severity of the problem. You may not need to wear it for a long time – it may even break the habit completely – otherwise you may be glad to continue using it over a long period. Either way, you should soon realise those headaches, and the jaw pain, have completely disappeared. If you have been grinding your teeth for some years and they are damaged as a result, your dentist may need to build up the affected teeth artificially to restore a comfortable and effective bite.
The underlying cause is another matter, of course – and if you feel your anxieties are a longer-term issue, your dentist may recommend you find a cognitive behavioural specialist to help you learn effective ways of managing stress. There may also be other reasons for bruxism, to do with the positioning of the jaw and your natural bite – but again, we will advise. If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, come and see us. We want you to wake up feeling refreshed every day!