Are you like thousands, if not millions, of people world-wide who suffer from headaches and jaw pain? While the headaches and jaw pain could be caused by some serious medical problems, many are caused by a nighttime phenomenon that could be prevented or controlled. Are you noticing that your bed partner grinds and clenches his or her teeth all night long? Well…if you find that habit annoying, then you need to sit down and read this article because you also could be found guilty of this annoying habit. Let’s talk a bit about a possible cause of those headaches and jaw pain.
Nocturnal bruxism is a medical term for grinding of your teeth. According to Matthew Messina, DDS and a consumer advisor spokesperson for the American Dental Association, this grinding happens because the teeth are not fitting quite right. The fit problem occurs for several reasons such as the teeth don’t fit together smoothly or the way or place the teeth are fitting together best isn’t a comfortable position to allow your jaw muscles to relax properly. When you grind your teeth, your body is trying to fix the fit problem by trying to remove the interference and it does this by basically wearing them down. Unfortunately, over the long term, your body will win — most of us have sufficient chewing power to crack the teeth, split the teeth and break fillings.
How do you know if you have nocturnal bruxism?
The diagnosis for nocturnal bruxism is determined officially by the audible tooth-grinding for three or more nights per week and it needs to have been present for at least three months according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They also say that this condition is transient — it can be an off and on situation. They say that it is more common in children and occurs less frequently in adults. The bad news is that if you have this condition in childhood, you will rarely outgrow it. The result of this condition is headaches, jaw pain, wearing down of the teeth, loosening of the teeth, and tooth pain and sensitivity.
There are some external causes of this condition and next week we will discuss some of them and what you can do to reduce the occurrence of nocturnal bruxism. In the meantime, keep up with those oh so vital routine dental cleanings and examinations with your Long Island Periodontist. He can help to identify and treat many dental issues including bruxism and gum disease. Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.