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Waking up with a sore jaw, tooth pain or a headache may be an indication that you’ve been clenching or grinding your teeth at night. The medical term for this condition is bruxism, and it can create a number of problems. A Los Angeles dentist like Suzanne Khalili, DDS, can help solve these problems with a night guard.
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All About Bruxism
Bruxism is relatively common in the US and affects about 10 to 15 percent of adults, according to the American Dental Association. The clenching or grinding may occur either at night or during the day as well. Thought to be related to stress, bruxism can cause damage to the teeth. The grinding wears down the surface of the teeth, especially the molars. Some people with bruxism may even break fillings or the tooth itself. Misalignment of the teeth may contribute to bruxism, while some dentists see it as a habit rather than an actual medical condition. Occasionally bruxism occurs as a result of medication side effects. People with bruxism are often referred to as bruxers.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Many patients are unaware they have bruxism, but their bed partners can often provide clues. Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles result in a grinding noise at night, sore jaw muscles, a dull morning headache or facial pain. Some patients report tight or painful jaw muscles or pain in the jaw joints themselves. Swelling may occur in the face, and the teeth may be damaged or broken. Bruxism is not temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, although the two conditions may sometimes co-exist.
A mouth guard is a dental appliance that you wear at night. Often available at a pharmacy without a prescription, these night guards are boiled to soften the plastic and then placed in the mouth after cooling for a few seconds. The patient bites it to shape the guard to his or her teeth. Your dentist can also make you a custom-fitted mouth guard. The custom mouth guard is a little more expensive, but it is of higher quality and can be more comfortable to wear.
In addition to a mouth guard, your dentist may recommend other treatments. For example, crooked teeth, overbites and underbites can contribute to problems with bruxism and tooth wear; your dentist may recommend orthodontia. Since anxiety is thought to be a major contributor stress prevention and/or reduction may be helpful. Along those lines, your dentist may recommend you decrease or avoid caffeine and nicotine, which are stimulants. Be sure to let your dentist know what medications you take, as that may also be a factor.
If you have a problem with bruxism or need a night guard, Adamd Family Dentistry can help. Please contact us so Dr. Khalili can assess your condition and make recommendations for treatment.