Do you notice that you are unintentionally clenching your jaw during stressful moments? You might even do it while you’re engaged in focused activities. You might have even been told by your partner that you clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night. 

This grinding or clenching is known as bruxism and it can often occur without even realizing it. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing heightened stress, which can contribute to bruxism. 

Here is what you need to know about bruxism and how it affects your overall health and well-being.

Teeth and fillings wear down

One thing to note is that the only time your teeth should touch is when you are eating. When not eating, your teeth should not be touching. Clenching and grinding your teeth can lead to accelerated wear and tear on your teeth, which can lead to a myriad of problems.

In particular, the edges of your teeth will wear down and flatten over time. The more you clench and grind, the likelier you are to experience this. In fact, bruxism can lead to chipped fillings, broken teeth and crowns that become damaged or are knocked off the tooth.

Sensitive teeth

Additionally, bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, which means eating foods that are hot or cold can make you feel uncomfortable and painful. This occurs because the protective enamel wears away from the teeth. That, in turn, exposes parts of the tooth leading to increased sensitivity. 

As sensitivity increases, your teeth may even become sensitive to air. When this happens, you might find that you are avoiding running outside or other activities because the wind blowing against their face causes extreme sensitivity in their teeth.

Head and face pain

You may also experience headaches and facial pain when suffering from bruxism. You may even experience earaches. That is because some of the muscles that you use to open and close your mouth connect at the TMJ. This connects your jaw to your skull. 

Because bruxism places added stress on the TMJ, it can result is jaw soreness and pain in the front of your ears, leading to TMD. Addressing bruxism at its onset will help to prevent further development of other serious conditions.

Interrupted sleep

Bruxism can also be a risk factor for sleep apnea. If you clench or grind your teeth at night, you are more likely to experience sleep breathing disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnea. However, just because you have bruxism does not mean you have sleep apnea. This is the same for sleep apnea. Just because you have sleep apnea, does not mean you also grind your teeth.

Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia to learn more about bruxism and how you can ease your symptoms to prevent further complications.