What is bruxism and how does it affect the smile?

Man in pain holding his cheek with hand suffering from bad tooth ache

Do you find that you wake up with a sore jaw? Have you been told by your sleeping partner that you clench and grinding your teeth when you sleep? Do you catch yourself with a tense jaw during the day while working or at school? If you said yes to these questions, you may be dealing with a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism is the clenching and grinding of the teeth either at night, during the day, or at all times. Many patients are not consciously aware that they are doing this, which makes it difficult to control or treat.

What are the signs of bruxism?

Patients who have bruxism may also deal with coexisting conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Common symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Popping or clicking of the jaw joint
  • Locking of the jaw when the mouth is open or closed
  • Facial pain and discomfort
  • Muscular tension or fatigue
  • Chipped or cracked teeth or dental restorations
  • Worn teeth

Without a proper diagnosis and treatment, patients may be putting themselves at risk of a wide range of problems, including harm to the smile and the worsening of TMD. To address the condition, Dr. Heather F. Fleschler of Houston, TX often recommends wearing a special mouthguard known as an oral appliance. This is a custom mouthpiece that patients can wear during the day or while they sleep to protect the smile from damage from bruxism. It can also help alleviate tension in the jaw joint, reducing pain and discomfort associated with TMD.

Make bruxism a problem of the past with the help of a dentist

Dr. Heather F. Fleschler and her team in Houston, TX work regularly with patients to help them achieve the smile of their dreams. If you are dealing with conditions such as bruxism and want to protect your smile from future damage, it might be time to talk to a professional about the use of an oral appliance. Her office is located at 5252 Westchester Street, Ste. #200 and is open to new and returning patients who call for an appointment at (713) 660-6500.

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