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Teeth Grinding: Signs and Symptoms Donald Tanenbaum

Teeth Grinding: Signs and Symptoms

Author: Donald Tanenbaum DDS MPH - Board-Certified Orofacial Pain Specialist at New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain

Date: September 28, 2011

Sleep Bruxism, the gnashing and grinding of the teeth that occurs at night, has most recently been defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as a sleep related movement disorder. Though the exact cause of sleep bruxism remains unclear, research suggests that anything that can arouse the brain during sleep may be a trigger. Factors such as daily stress, longstanding anxiety and worries, obstructive sleep apnea, reactions to certain medications, a crying baby, and/or a pain producing medical conditions seem to be just some of the factors that may be playing a role. For years, a bad bite and crooked teeth were thought to be risk factors but research suggests that this is unlikely.

Grinding of the teeth on a regular basis can lead to worn teeth, fractured teeth or dental restorations, mobile teeth, sore teeth on awakening, and a number of problems associated with the jaw muscle and jaw joints. Some people however, can grind their teeth for years without any symptoms. These people commonly deny that they grind their teeth despite physical evidence of wear patterns on their teeth and reports by their bed partners of being disturbed by the clashing noise of their teeth.

Do I Have Bruxism?

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms particularly on arising, bruxism may be the cause. Teeth grinding symptoms may include:

  • Sore teeth when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot, cold fluids
  • Jaw pain or tightness
  • Tired jaw muscles
  • Vague earaches which relate to jaw function
  • Dull headaches in the temples which may linger throughout the day
  • Persistent facial pain
  • Limited jaw opening
  • Jaw joint noises

What to Look For:

The common physical signs of bruxism include:

  • Teeth that are worn down, flattened, fractured or chipped
  • The tops of the teeth appear yellow: when tooth enamel is lost the dentin is exposed, and dentin has a yellowish color
  • Indentations on the side of your tongue
  • Damage on the inside of your cheeks from chewing
  • Excessive bulging of your jaw and temple muscles when the teeth are brought together

If you suspect bruxism, or if your partner has complained of the sound of your teeth grinding at night, a dental consultation is advised. There are many options at your dentist’s disposal for treating bruxism.

For more information on bruxism and teeth grinding, the causes and treatment options, I invite you to visit my website. Thank You.

Dr. Donald Tanenbaum has been practicing in New York City and Long Island for over 20 years. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat bruxism, TMJ and TMD problems, Sleep Apnea, facial pain,  muscle pain disorders, nerve pain disorders, tension headaches, and snoring. Learn more about Dr. Tanenbaum here.

DISCLAIMER: The advice offered in response to your questions is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. Namely, we in no way offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendation for your particular situation. Our intent is solely educational and our responses to your actual questions serve as a springboard to discussion of a variety of dental topics that come up in a day-to-day dental practice. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified professional.

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