You're probably aware that grinding your teeth can cause jaw pain and soreness of the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. What if you grind your teeth and don't have jaw pain? Does that mean you can just ignore this behavior and go on living your life without treating it? Perhaps you can, but you shouldn't. Grinding your teeth can cause problems other than jaw pain, especially if you keep doing it for months or years on end.
Common Problems Caused the Tooth Grinding
In case you have not heard of TMJ pain, it is a condition in which the joint between your lower jaw and the temporal bone, which lies just beneath your ear, becomes irritated and inflamed. Though it has many possible causes, one of the most common causes is grinding the teeth, and patients typically experience relief once they put an end to their tooth grinding.
Tooth grinding puts a lot of pressure on the muscles and ligaments throughout the head and neck. Research has shown that many patients with migraines or headaches engage in tooth grinding. Their headaches diminish greatly or go away completely if they're able to stop this behavior.
Grinding your teeth is also bad for your teeth themselves. It can wear away the enamel on the surfaces of your teeth, making you more prone to cavities. If you have fillings, grinding your teeth can loosen them. Having a filling replaced is certainly not fun.
How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Since most patients grind their teeth at night, you may not be aware that you're engaging in this behavior. However, if you wake up with a sore jaw occasionally, are suffering from frequent headaches, or have a partner tell you that you're grinding your teeth, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she will examine your teeth for evidence of grinding.
If you do grind your teeth, your dentist may design a mouth guard that you can wear at night to inhibit this behavior. You can also engage in some self-behavior therapy to reduce tooth grinding and the stress that often causes it. Spend a few minutes meditating before going to bed each night, as this will reduce your stress levels. Get plenty of exercise during the day, and use vanilla scented oils to give your room a pleasant aroma that will promote deep and relaxing sleep.
Whether or not your tooth grinding leads to jaw soreness, it's important to have it treated before your teeth and overall health suffer the consequences. Tooth grinding is very common, and you should not be ashamed that you engage in it. Speak openly and honestly about tooth grinding with your dentist, and he or she will ensure you get the treatment you need.