If you find yourself clenching your jaw throughout the day, or you wake up with a sore jaw or a headache, you might be suffering from bruxism—chronic painful grinding, clenching or gnashing of the teeth. This teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching habit is a common condition that affects over 10 million UK adults. While some people can develop bruxism as a reaction to a stressful time in their life, the habit often lasts into life's calmer periods and can end up wreaking havoc on the body. Yet, this is only one potential cause of bruxism.
Why the Grinding?
Doctors still don't completely understand what causes bruxism, but there's one thing they all agree to. The cause of bruxism is unique to each patient, with different physical, psychological, or genetic factors coming into play.
For example, awake bruxism may be a coping strategy to anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. Or it may be a habit formed during deep concentration. On the other hand, nighttime teeth grinding is sometimes related to hyperactivity, sleep apnea, or acid reflux and can appear as a side effect of certain antidepressant medications.
Whatever the reason behind your bruxism, it can have serious negative consequences for your life. Here are some ways it can impact you:
Consequences of Bruxism
People who regularly grind their teeth during the night complain of sleep disturbances, which can leave them drained and exhausted. In some instances, your significant other might hear you grinding your teeth while you sleep. It's been described as a squeaking noise almost like tree branches rubbing together. Such noises can easily disrupt their sleep as well!
This causes a number of problems, including difficulty concentrating and poor productivity at work or school. A lack of restful sleep not only leaves you tired the next day, but it can also lead to mood problems such as anger and depression, which can cause havoc with your relationships.
2. Dental Damage.
Bruxism can cause all kinds of problems for oral health. Chronic grinding your teeth places excessive pressure on both your upper and lower teeth. This can cause cracked teeth or even wear down the tooth enamel to the point that cavities develop. Some of this damage can be addressed with tooth fillings or dental crowns. Still, in many cases, patients only seek dental care when the enamel is worn right through, and the tooth pulp is now exposed.
This creates a prime environment for bacterial infections, leading to periodontic disease and tooth loss
3. Enlarged or Overdeveloped Jaw Muscles.
Over time, chronic clenching of the jaw leads to hypertrophy of the masseter muscles causing the lower face to take on a broad and square appearance. A prominent square-shaped jaw is generally not accepted as aesthetically pleasing by female patients, who perceive these characteristics as a masculine trait. Overdeveloped masseter muscles are often viewed as a big nuisance, especially by women who wish to have a more slim, softer appearing face.
4. Migraines and Jaw Pain.
Regular teeth grinding can cause headaches, earaches, and sinus pain. Even worst, bruxism has been shown to trigger full-blown migraine attacks among migraine sufferers. The pressure of grinding on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can also result in jaw popping accompanied by pain. If left untreated, it can become progressively worse and even require surgery. In severe cases, bruxism can compromise essential oral functions such as chewing, speaking and swallowing due to pain and tightness when opening the mouth.
Your TMJ muscles span to your jaw, cheeks, and the side of your head.
5. Low Self Confidence.
Looks do matter; ask anyone who has ever had to go for a job interview. You don't need to have a model's teeth to make a good impression, but you do need to have a clean, healthy smile. Worn-down, cracked, and broken teeth caused by bruxism can have a considerable impact on your career and social life.
For anyone suffering from fatigue, damaged teeth, headaches and other bruxism-related symptoms, it's can be difficult to be positive and confident of your abilities and the impressions you leave in society. After all, your self-esteem and confidence in how you view yourself are instrumental in living a healthy, happy life.
Steps to Fix Painful Teeth Grinding
The first step in addressing your bruxism is to get a proper diagnosis. Schedule a consultation with a dentist, who will examine your teeth for signs such as flattened tips, inflamed gums, and deterioration of the tooth enamel. They should also discuss any other symptoms you might be experiencing before giving you a diagnosis.
While there is no cure to stop teeth grinding completely, treatment can reduce its frequency, decrease its impact, and relieve symptoms.
While there are different dental approaches, therapies, and medications to alleviate bruxism symptoms, we specialise in Botox for Bruxism. Yes, the popular anti-ageing drug can be used to prevent more tooth damage and relieve your jaw pain or discomfort! More than that, it has been shown to be very effective in reducing the severity of bruxism.
Treating Bruxism with Botox
By injecting small doses of Botox directly into the masseter muscle (the large muscle that moves the jaw), the muscle is weakened enough to stop the involuntary grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. This significantly relaxes the muscle and reduces the wear and tear on the teeth and other bruxism symptoms like headaches and jaw disorders. It will also reduce the size of overdeveloped jaw muscle for those who want to achieve a slimmer, more appealing facial profile.
The habit of grinding is often challenging to break, particularly for those who grind in their sleep. If you struggle with bruxism, come talk to us. You don't have to fight this alone and let excessive teeth grinding impact your health and lifestyle negatively. At Dr Aesthetica, we aim to help you live your best life—free from the limitations bruxism has placed on you.