What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which people clench or grind their teeth without realizing it, either during the day or while they sleep.

Many people who have bruxism don’t know they have it and exhibit no signs or symptoms. Others have severe bruxism that causes interference with daily activities like eating and speaking.

What Are the Signs of Bruxism?

  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Jaw or facial pain
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Muscle tension in the jaw, neck, and face
  • Headaches, especially in the back of the head
  • Jaw dislocation or locking
  • Damage to tooth enamel
  • Popping or clicking noises when the jaw is moved
  • Indentations on the tongue or cheek
  • Smooth surfaces on the back of the teeth called facets of wear

Many of these symptoms, such as headaches or facial pain, could be symptoms of other health conditions. It’s important to consult a San Francisco dentist with extensive experience treating bruxism if you experience one or more of the above symptoms.

What Causes Bruxism?

Bruxism can be caused by anxiety, stress, and in some cases, it may simply be a personality trait. People experiencing high levels of ongoing mental or emotional stress are more likely to develop bruxism, as are individuals with certain types of mental health conditions.

There is some evidence that suggests bruxism may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Bruxism can also be caused by some medications or illicit drugs, such as antidepressants or amphetamines.

Bruxism Diagnosis

Although bruxism can be diagnosed by traditional medical providers, a dental professional is better suited to check your teeth for indications of bruxism, such as chipped teeth or tongue indentations during a routine dental checkup.

If you’re diagnosed with bruxism, your San Francisco dentist will recommend a treatment plan and will monitor your condition and progress over the following several visits.

Bruxism Treatment Options

There are multiple different treatment options for bruxism or teeth grinding. Which solution is best for you largely depends on factors like your overall oral health and the cause of your bruxism, among others.

If you regularly clench or grind your teeth, you may benefit from treatments like:

  • Anxiety Reduction and Lifestyle Changes

    Patients with mild to moderate bruxism caused by anxiety or stress may find relief from simple lifestyle changes. For example, reducing anxiety with deep breathing, healthy eating, and exercise can also improve bruxism symptoms.

  • Mouthguard Devices

    There are several different types of mouthguard devices that can be worn at night to prevent teeth grinding:

    • Over-the-Counter Mouthguards
      Over-the-counter mouthguards are the most commonly used device to prevent teeth clenching or grinding and they’re relatively inexpensive. Some may be form-fitting while others are ready to wear right out of the box. Unfortunately, they do not tend to last very long, especially for patients who suffer from severe bruxism or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
    • Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards
      A boil-and-bite mouthguard is a type of over-the-counter bruxism prevention device that is made of soft, moldable plastic.
      The plastic is submerged under hot water for a few minutes until it becomes soft and then is molded to the teeth. It retains its shape once it cools, providing a physical barrier in between your teeth, which can relieve some of the pressure from nighttime grinding.
    • Custom Made Mouthguards
      Custom mouthguards for bruxism in San Francisco come from your dentist’s office. They are significantly more expensive than over-the-counter mouthguards but are designed to last much longer and do a better job of protecting the teeth from damage.
    • DNA Appliances
      Stanford Health reports that as many as 77% of patients with bruxism also have sleep apnea and/or a similar condition called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). A Daytime-Nighttime Appliance, also called a DNA appliance is also worn in the mouth and is a step beyond custom nightguards for teeth grinding.
      The device is worn for up to 18 months and stimulates expansion and elongation of the mouth and upper airways. This results in improved breathing and a reduction in sleep apnea and bruxism symptoms. With treatment, patients may notice that they do not grind or clench their teeth as frequently or severely at night.

Medication for Bruxism

Some medications may help relieve anxiety or aid in the regulation of neurotransmitters, both of which can help to reduce symptoms of bruxism.

If antidepressants are proven to be the cause of teeth grinding, it may be necessary to switch medications. Whether or not medication is recommended to treat teeth clenching depends largely on the cause of a person’s bruxism and whether or not they have underlying health conditions that may be contributory.

Most often, more than one approach is used to treat bruxism. For example, you may need treatment with both medication and a DNA appliance to reduce the frequency or severity of your teeth grinding. Or, you may have a severe enough case to warrant all three interventions.

Contact a San Francisco Bruxism Dentist Now

If you’re experiencing teeth grinding or clenching during the day or night, don’t wait to reach out to a veteran dentist in San Francisco to book an appointment. At Green Dentistry, we’re committed to providing comfortable, attentive care to each of our patients and will work to find solutions that best fit your unique needs.

Your Comfort Matters to Us

Our Union Square dentist in San Francisco ensures our office is a place where you can relax and put your health and wellness first, allowing yourself recovery and restoration. We provide a number of spa-like services to our patients in order to relieve discomfort and improve relaxation, such as:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Neck wraps and heated blankets
  • Healing with essential oils and crystals
  • Noise-cancelling headphones

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  • Produce 260 lbs of fresh oxygen
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We look forward to welcoming you and helping you on your journey to an amazing smile and life-long health!

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Dr. Nammy Patel and her team at Green Dentistry in Downtown San Francisco, California, provide quality dentistry with a holistic approach. They offer their patients exceptional care and service in cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign treatment, laser dentistry, sleep apnea treatment, general holistic dentistry and so much more. They even offer sedation dentistry to their patients. They serve patients throughout the Bay Area. SF Green Dentist is in walking distance from Downtown, the Financial District and zip codes 94108, 94109, 94103, 94104 and 94133.