Jaw pain and soreness has become an increasingly common complaint among Vancouver, WA patients. Bruxism, the clenching of the jaw and grinding teeth, is often the cause of this jaw pain and soreness. For patients experiencing jaw pain or other symptoms associated with bruxism, Dr. Bowyer can diagnose and provide treatment options. If left untreated, bruxism can be damaging to patients dental health, therefore it is recommended that if patients are concerned they may be experiencing symptoms they schedule an appointment with Dr. Bowyer soon. The management of bruxism symptoms often involves Stress is often the underlying cause of bruxism, and often needs to be addresses alongside the management of the symptoms.
What is bruxism?
There are two types of bruxism that patients may experience:
Awake Bruxism: This is caused by clenching of the jaw and/or grinding teeth during the day while awake. This is often caused be periods of stress and anxiety, though can also be the result of medications or other substances. While some people may be aware that they are clenching or gnashing their teeth, it is more common for the act to be unconscious. This form of bruxism is best treated through meditation, exercise and treatment of the underlying stress, as well as addressing any dental issues.
Sleep Bruxism: When teeth grinding occurs while a person is asleep, it is considered a sleep disorder. Often patients are unaware that they may be grinding their teeth while sleeping, though it may be audible to people they share their bed with. Patients with sleep bruxism may wake up with morning headaches, jaw pain or neck pain in addition to unexplained damage to their teeth. Due to the unconscious nature of the sleep disorder, one of the most common treatments for this form of bruxism is to wear a night guard at night. Night guards protect the teeth from grinding, thereby reducing tension in the jaw in addition to preventing damage to the teeth. People who have sleep apena or snore at night have been found to more commonly suffer from sleep bruxism.
Symptoms of Bruxism:
- Tension headaches, especially in the morning for sleep bruxism patients.
- Jaw disorders, just as those to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- Damage to teeth, crowns or other dental restorations
- Problems with chewing and/or speaking
- Ear pain
Types of Night Guards:
One of the easiest treatments for bruxism, which also can quickly relieve patients of symptoms related to the disorder, is to wear a night guard or mouth guard while sleeping. There are a few different types of night guards that patients can consider when deciding on this course of treatment. As always, it is recommended that you consult with Dr. Bowyer, who can provide advice as to what type of night guard will work best for you.
Over-the-counter stock night guards: These night guards can be easily found at your local drugstore. They come pre-formed and ready to use. These are considered one-size-fits-all and are fairly inexpensive. This type of night guard is typically very thin and only offers minimal protection, and will quickly wear down and need replacing. As the guard is not custom fitted, it may not be as comfortable as other options.
Boil-and-bite night guards: Also found in local drug stores, boil-and-bite night guards allow for a slightly more customized fit for the wearer. This night guard should be placed in hot water before fitting to your teeth with your fingers. These night guards will likely fit better than the non-fitted night guard, but is still very thin and will not provide the type of protection that dentist created night guards will. Unfortunately, these also will also have a lifetime of a few months at most, and will need replacing on a regular basis.
Dentist-made custom-fitted night guards: These night guards can only be made by a dentist, like Dr. Bowyer. For patients concerned with how a night guard may interfere with their sleep, dentist-fitted night guards will provide the most comfortable fit. These night guards will also best protect your teeth and jaw from the night-time grinding, and will provide the most reliable reduction of symptoms. These night guards will stand up to severe grinding and will last a few years instead of a few months.
The process of getting a dentist-fitted night guard is fairly quick. It will involve one appointment where Dr. Bowyer will take impressions of your mouth, and then a secondary appointment where you will try on your newly fitted mouth guard. As Dr. Bowyer has invested in new imaging technology, the impressions will be taken digitally and will lead to a more accurately fitted mouth guard than with traditional impression. If you think you may be dealing with symptoms from bruxism, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with Dr. Bowyer. In addition to helping you understand your options for treatment, it’s important to have a dentist evaluate whether there has been any damage to your teeth that could impact your long-term dental health.
If you think you may be dealing with symptoms from bruxism, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with Dr. Bowyer. In addition to helping you understand your options for treatment, it’s important to have a dentist evaluate whether there has been any damage to your teeth that could impact your long-term dental health.