What is that annoying pain in my neck?
If your immediate reaction was, "My boss," you're looking for a different blog post. What we’re referring to is a chronic pain or soreness in your jaw, neck, or shoulders, particularly when you wake up.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, may be the culprit. Your teeth routinely withstand an enormous amount of pressure, and that’s what they’re designed to do. But chronic grinding and clenching creates excess stress on your teeth and can lead to abnormal wear and fracturing, among other unpleasant symptoms.
Tell Your Dentist
You are not alone - the majority of Americans grind their teeth, so don’t be surprised if your dentist knows exactly what you’re talking about. But you may be surprised at how easily the condition can be corrected with a simple dental appliance called a night guard or occlusal splint.
Before you ask Dr. Kaplansky about bruxism, though, you may want to pay attention to signals that confirm that you’re grinding or clenching of your teeth throughout the day or, more commonly, in your sleep.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of bruxism are as follows:
Waking up Your Partner
A good sign that you grind your teeth at night is the permanent bruise in your side from elbow-jabbing by your partner. Sometimes grinding, chewing or clenching motions can be rather loud, and may be heard by a sleeping partner or a parent (as if they don’t have enough to put with from you.) Much like snoring, grinding occurs during sleep, and you will usually not even know you are doing it.
Poor Sleep or Exhaustion
Of course, it follows that if your partner is waking up, you’re probably not getting a good night’s rest either. If you constantly wake up feeling groggy or are sleepy throughout the day, you should be looking for signs of bruxism.
Pain in Your Ear, Head, or Neck
These are some of the most obvious signs that you are grinding in your sleep. If you wake with a dull, lingering headache on a regular basis, you are probably stressing the muscles in your face and jaw and during sleep. Chronic earaches or ringing in the ears can also be caused by the consistent clenching of teeth.
Deterioration of Dental Restorations
Grinding, and especially clenching, causes excess pressure on dental restorations, which may collapse or crack. This can be painful and dangerous to your dental health, but also expensive to repair. Without the proper treatment, grinding could undo all of the money and time you have invested in a beautiful smile.
After a diagnosis has been made, there are a number of treatment options. Before we talk about them, it is important to understand how serious bruxism can be, and what types of results it can have on your smile.
How We Can Help
For all the problems that teeth grinding can create, the solution may be much simpler than you think. We can make a customized oral device called an NTI that is similar to a mouth guard and fits comfortably over your teeth. The NTI is designed to move the jaw forward, spreading the upper and lower jaw apart so that they don’t come into contact. This helps to relieve jaw clenching.
You don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort of bruxism. If you or your partner show signs of teeth grinding, please give our Gasport dental office a call. We can help you get the relief you need!