What is Bruxism and Why is it a Problem?

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Bruxism is the medical name for jaw clenching and tooth grinding. A common stress response, bruxism can have a profound impact on the health and appearance of your smile, increasing risks for uneven and aggressive tooth wear, gum recession, tooth loss, and persistent pain. When bruxism continues unchecked, it may even result in TMJ, a condition marked by jaw pain, chronic headaches, and facial sensitivity.

Stress is a common consequence of our modern lives. Because it is overwhelming to several of the body’s systems, when stress occurs, the body goes to work to address the issue. In many cases, this comes by way of movement. Not all of those movements are conscious. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are two prime examples.

Stress reduction can help to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. These may include intentional breathing practices, healthy eating, staying active, and maintaining relationships. Paying attention and actively taking steps to remain calm can help to build a more appropriate stress response and may help to reduce some of the serious oral and systemic health consequences the condition can cause.

Bruxism is common during sleep when attention is not possible. This can make correcting the issue more complex. In many cases, however, a simple occlusal guard may be all that’s needed. Customized to fit precisely and comfortably, these non-invasive mouthguards cushion the lower teeth to reduce the impact of clenching. If we notice signs of bruxism, such as gum recession or bite irregularities, during your routine examinations, we will happily discuss your treatment options in more detail.

National Stress Awareness Month

April is National Stress Awareness Month, giving you a perfect opportunity to reassess your stress response and to commit to taking steps to reduce the behavior. Persistent stress is not only damaging to the teeth, it can increase risks for heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and more. Taking steps to reduce stress works to counter these potential consequences, helping to keep your entire body healthier and happier.

If you suspect you are a tooth grinder and you would like to discuss treatment options, please call Warr Dental at 801-355-5385 and schedule your free initial screening. Located in Salt Lake City, we welcome patients from all surrounding areas of Utah.