You wake up, and your jaw hurts. Your pain goes away after a few hours, and things seem like they’re back to normal. Then, the same thing happens the next morning. And the next morning. What’s going on, and should you be concerned?
Jaw pain can be caused by lots of different oral health problems, so it’s important to see a dentist like Dr. Imahn Moin for a proper diagnosis. But most of the time, it’s caused by teeth grinding, also known as “bruxism.” In this blog, we’ll take a detailed look at this oral health issue, and explain everything you need to know.
Teeth grinding, also called “bruxism,” is an uncontrolled gnashing, clenching, and grinding of the teeth. This can happen during the day, but is the most common at night, and it can happen to people of all ages.
Normally, your teeth only meet when you’re biting or chewing. At rest, your upper and lower teeth are supposed to be separate. Because of this, excessive clenching puts a lot of strain on your teeth, as well as the support structures of your mouth and your jaw muscles.
This is why teeth grinding causes pain in the jaw. As you clench your teeth together at night, your jaw muscles are working overtime. Like all other muscles, this means they may feel sore the next day.
Over time, teeth grinding can even damage your teeth, and lead to further complications like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD), a painful condition that affects the joints that attach your jaw to your skull.
Dentists and doctors are still not 100% sure why we grind our teeth. However, there are a few known factors that can contribute to a higher risk of teeth grinding:
Jaw pain is a common result of bruxism, but there are also lots of other symptoms that may indicate that you’re grinding your teeth. They include:
The most common way to treat teeth grinding is with a night guard. These are durable plastic dental appliances that look similar to a retainer. They are usually built to cover your upper teeth, protecting them from direct contact with your lower teeth. This does not eliminate teeth grinding completely. However, it does cushion your teeth and protects them from damage and excessive wear.
Botox is also used by some dentists to help with teeth grinding. When it’s injected into certain jaw muscles, Botox paralyzes them. This prevents them from being overused, and can help you control or eliminate bruxism.
At Wallingford Dental Care, Dr. Imahn Moin specializes in treating bruxism with both night guards and Botox. If you've been waking up with jaw pain and you think you’re grinding your teeth, we’re here to help. Contact us online or give us a call at (206) 633-4007 to schedule a consultation right away, and take the first steps toward eliminating your pain and preserving your oral health.