If you sometimes catch yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth when you’re feeling anxious or lost in concentration, or if you wake up with headaches or discomfort in your jaw, you may be experiencing a condition called bruxism. Bruxism is the excessive clenching of the jaw or grinding of teeth and it can occur at night (sleep bruxism) or during the day (awake bruxism). Fortunately, there are some things you can do that may help relieve the symptoms once you learn more about what is bruxism and what causes it.

What Causes Bruxism?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes bruxism, but many things can contribute to bruxism and worsen the symptoms. Contributing factors may be a combination of physical, psychological and emotional components.

Some people are more prone to experiencing bruxism due to the structure of their jaw or bite or other genetic factors. Emotions such as anxiety, frustration and anger can also play a role in elevating symptoms. If you’re experiencing headaches or jaw pain, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist or orthodontist what is bruxism’s potential role in your symptoms and what you should do about it.

How Can I Get Relief at Home?

Some ideas to help relieve symptoms in the meantime include stress management and improving sleep quality. Meditating or practicing yoga, exercising, taking a bath, listening to music or taking up a creative hobby may all be helpful to lower stress and improve the relaxation of your body and mind. Avoiding stimulating substances like caffeine may also help to reduce symptoms. Practicing any of these activities in the evening, in addition to maintaining a regular sleep routine and schedule, may be helpful if you suffer from sleep bruxism, in particular.

When to Talk to Your Dentist or Orthodontist

Some causes of bruxism are not related to stress or other emotional or psychological factors so it’s important to start by ruling out physical causes that a dental professional may need to treat.

Your dentist or orthodontist may also prescribe a night mouthguard to help protect your teeth from damage caused by grinding or clenching while you sleep, regardless of the reason you may be suffering from bruxism. It’s important to talk to your dentist or orthodontist about what kind of mouthguard you need before you purchase one because some mass produced mouthguards can make bruxism worse if they are ill fitting and create an uneven bite. It’s best to be fitted for a mouthguard by a professional experienced in treating bruxism.

Get to the Root of Your Symptoms

If you think you might have bruxism or have more questions about what is bruxism, call your dentist or orthodontist to schedule an exam as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of damage to your teeth caused by grinding or clenching and help find a solution to your symptoms. You shouldn’t have to suffer and there are options that may bring relief quicker than you think.

Call our Tulsa Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.