Welcome back! How many of you who are reading this article today suffer from headaches and jaw pain? Were you with us last week? If, not then allow me to briefly bring you up to speed on what we talked about last week. The topic of nocturnal bruxism was up for discussion and I shared the fact that many people suffer from it and that it can cause some serious damage to your oral tissues. We offered one cause of this annoying and dangerous habit of grinding and clenching your teeth and that was that the teeth either don’t fit together properly or that the way they fit together the best is not comfortable for the jaw muscles to relax. The result is nocturnal bruxism, better known as grinding and clenching of teeth. Today, let’s talk about some other causes of nocturnal bruxism.
The “official” diagnosis of Nocturnal Bruxism
For those of you reading this article today who weren’t with us last week, I am repeating my definition of the “official” diagnosis of this condition: it is the audible grinding of teeth that occurs at least three nights per week for a minimum of three months. The result of this grinding of teeth can eventually cause headaches, jaw pain, wearing down of the teeth, tooth pain and tooth sensitivity. When we are up against the chewing power of our teeth and jaw, the body will win as there is sufficient power available to crack the teeth, split the teeth and break fillings in the teeth.
Stress: A known encourager of bruxism
As you can readily see, grinding and clenching of the teeth, nocturnal bruxism, is absolutely NOT in your best interests. Unfortunately, for most of us, when we find ourselves in stressful situations, there is extra energy that becomes available and it simply MUST be released — one way or another. While the things that cause each of us to be stressed differs greatly, there is one common thread — the energy that results must be released. If you are already prone to bruxism, whether from childhood or whether it is a carefully crafted adult habit, you will likely utilize grinding and clenching of your teeth as an avenue for the reduction of this stress energy.
Ultimately the problem of bruxism is a wide-spread problem but the causes of it are not the same for everyone. The cause of bruxism for some people could be a bite problem, or, a joint issue, or even a change in sleeping position or sleeping style. The cause could be something as simple as knocking your chin against something or even chomping down too hard on a popcorn kernel. Any of these things could cause a very minor change in your bite that could potentially and ultimately be a trigger for the grinding and clenching that is nocturnal bruxism. And, since the potential causes are so vast, so then, are the remedies — what works for me may not necessarily work for you.
Your Periodontist in Long Island can help to identify the problem and can help get to the root of it. Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel. Oh…and be sure to come on back next week so we can talk about some things you can do to protect yourself from the damages of nocturnal bruxism.