Have you ever woken up with a headache, a sore jaw, or swelling on the inside of your cheeks? If you or your child have these or other symptoms, it may be the result of a condition called bruxism — also known as teeth grinding. This disorder can appear as clenching, gnashing, or grinding and is relatively common, especially among children.

Regardless of the time of the day you grind your teeth, you may want to seek the advice of a dentist or orthodontist. The right treatment plan and the guidance of a professional can help you address bruxism and minimize the damage the condition can do to your or your child’s health.

Causes and Signs of Teeth Grinding

Stress and anxiety can cause you to grind your teeth, but misalignment can also lead to bruxism. Also, because teeth grinders may clench down with the force of 250 pounds, the sound is sometimes loud enough to wake someone sleeping nearby.

In case no one has ever heard you grinding your teeth, the bruxism symptoms could include:

  • Chipped, loose, or worn-down teeth
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tight or locked jaw muscles
  • Sores or swelling on the inside of your cheek
  • Pain in your face or neck
  • Headache originating in your temples
  • Earache
  • Sleep problems and daytime tiredness

The reason you may develop bruxism is at least partly genetic. This means that if you grind their teeth, there’s a good chance your child does, too.

Although mild or occasional bruxism is not a cause for alarm, severe grinding — if left untreated — can have serious consequences like:

  • Tooth Damage — Prolonged pressure caused by tooth grinding can crack or break your teeth and affect your bite and alignment. Damage to your tooth enamel can increase your risk of getting cavities, extractions, and root canals.
  • Chronic Pain — Intense teeth grinding can cause not only tension headaches but also severe pain in your face and jaw.
  • TMJ Disorders — The TMJs — or temporomandibular joints — connect your jawbone to your temporal joint in each ear. Severe teeth grinding often leads to TMJ disorders. Their signs can include headache, neck and shoulder pain, tinnitus (or ringing in the ears), facial swelling, and earache. These disorders can also lead to clicking or “locking” of jaws while you open or close your mouth.

Teeth Grinding Orthodontics Solutions

Dental and orthodontic care is a critical part of any bruxism treatment plan, along with addressing stress, anxiety, and possible sleep disorders. While dental care may be necessary to repair damaged teeth, the Las Vegas orthodontist team at Hansen Ortho can help by getting to the source of the grinding.

Straightening teeth with braces or Invisalign can reduce grinding caused by crowding or misalignment. Custom fitting a night guard can also be a great solution to keeping you from damaging your teeth while you sleep.If you have bruxism, don’t wait to get help — contact us today to find out how Hansen Ortho can help relieve the discomfort of teeth grinding.