If you find that you clench or grind your teeth regularly, you may have a condition known as bruxism. Some people only clench their teeth when they are sleeping while others do it unconsciously while they are awake, but the dangers are the same. Untreated bruxism can cause headaches, damaged teeth and jaw disorders.
Symptoms of Bruxism
If you fear you clench your teeth in the night but aren’t sure, watch for the following symptoms:
Risk factors for bruxism include genetics, medications, personality type, age and stress. It can also be linked to other mental and medical health conditions like sleep apnea, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
When the condition is left untreated, it can lead to several problems. These may include trouble sleeping, headaches and tooth decay. Because of the pressure put on your gums when you grind or clench your teeth, teeth grinding can also lead to serious gum recession over time. It may also move your teeth loose from their sockets, creating a pocket or opening perfect for bacteria to collect.
Clenching and grinding teeth can be treated in several ways, and your dentist can help you determine which is right for you. You may be encouraged to use splints or mouth guards, be treated for anxiety and stress and given habit reversal techniques. The most important thing is that you see a dentist regularly to ensure that any problems are treated before they get out of hand.