Jaw pain, frequent morning headaches, and excessive wear on your teeth are all signs that you may suffer from chronic clenching and grinding, or bruxism. Dr. Kenneth Edwards, your dentist in Amherst, discusses how outside sources such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and drug abuse also relate to bruxism.
The Triggers of Bruxism
While there are a number of different causes for nighttime bruxism, a recent study in the Journal of the American Dental Association indicates that the occurrence of night time clenching and grinding nearly doubled in patients who drink alcohol, use tobacco products, or smoke cigarettes. The study also showed a one-and-a-half times increase for those who drink more than eight cups of coffee throughout the day.
While there's definitely a correlation between these outside sources and bruxism, there still isn't sufficient evidence as to why these substances seem to trigger sleep bruxism, just that they do. We also know that stress and anxiety can contribute to bruxism.
The Dangers of Bruxism
Besides causing frequent headaches and jaw pain, bruxism can also contribute to bite misalignment and issues with TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder. Patients who suffer from bruxism may also suffer from sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes patients to stop breathing dozens, or even hundreds, of times per night.
Bruxism also causes excessive wear to your teeth, which can lead to fractures and other damage.
How Is Bruxism Treated?
Dr. Edwards helps patients control their sleep bruxism with custom night guards, oral appliances that you wear at night while you sleep. Night guards are comfortable to wear, easy to get used to, and protect your teeth from the damage caused by bruxism. They also relax your muscles and eliminate your clenching and grinding during the night so you can get a better night's sleep.
If you suspect you may suffer from bruxism, talk to Dr. Edwards at your next check-up to learn more about your options for protecting your teeth.