Teeth Grinding Symptoms
Bruxism or teeth grinding has several different symptoms. They can be mainly grouped into two distinct categories - symptoms and signs in your body and symptoms and signs in your daily life. Each category will be separately looked into. However, symptoms and signs of both ‘life’ and ‘body’ can be experienced simultaneously.
Bruxism Symptoms and Signs in your Body
Loud and Audible nightly grinding noises – Often a parent or sleeping partner is the first one to become aware of a family member’s symptoms of bruxism. They frequently hear the noise of teeth grinding while the family member is sleeping. The noise is sometime described as a scraping or grating sound. The sound can be adequately loud and can wake another person from their sleep. It may not awaken the sufferer in the initial phases.
Teeth Appearance – A dentist can diagnose some other signs after performing a basic examination. One of them is the appearance of the teeth. The teeth will look flat, in contrast to the usual concavities, cusps and edges as seen in a healthy set of teeth. Symptoms of teeth grinding are quite visible on the enamel (a lard layer on the teeth’s surface) as chipping, scratches or sometimes cracks.
In extremely grave cases, the entire edges of the teeth wear out, the teeth become smooth and flat, like that of a sheep’s. However, the teeth are made of a very solid material and the marks become visible after a long period of time. In the initial stages, bruxism can be evident in other signs like tenderness, soreness, pain and sensitivity in the muscles of the jaw.
The symptoms of teeth grinding are also visible in the region where the teeth and gum meet. A groove shape is visible at this meeting point in people who grind their teeth. Even though several years may pass before the effects of teeth grinding become clearly visible, but the damage done is often permanent.
Morning Symptoms – the symptoms that an individual feels after waking up in the morning can be the initial signs that warn the sufferer of their habit. If you brux during the night, you make wake up with a earache, headache, jaw tightness, cheek pain or sore face. You may also feel tenderness on the inside of your cheek and discomfort when you try to put some pressure on your facial muscles.
Sometimes, people experience a strong pain in their joints, head, jaw and facial muscles. They are oblivious of the fact that these pains are caused by frequent teeth grinding. Patients have sometimes visited neurologists, ear, throat, and nose doctors and have still suffered the pain without finding a cure for it. The problem is usually teeth grinding.
Although, sometimes bruxers may not experience any headache on waking up, the facial muscles have already tensed up and therefore, a minor tension increase may lead to severe headaches.
Many patients of Professor Ettie Gazit were convinced of having head cancer. They would have terribly severe headaches for months and would visit doctors. They were sure of having a face or head cancer. The issue here is that jaw muscles used in chewing are quite short and get tired quickly. The muscles that are used to close the jaw (75% of jaw muscles) are quite strong in comparison to those used to close the jaw which is why pain develops in the muscles. This disturbs the regular oxygen supply to the tissue causing side effects like strong headaches, pain in the temples, cheeks, jaw muscles and the joint located 1cm below your ear.
Migraines – The symptoms of teeth grinding not only include throbbing headaches, they may turn into migraines as well. Migraines occur when enormous pressure is exerted on the teeth. The pressure can cause extreme tension in the muscles of the jaw. The tension then gradually radiates into adjoining areas like the head and neck muscles and becomes the main reason for migraine headaches.
Jaw Pain and TMJ – Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ is another issue which is a result of bruxism. This is caused by constant stretching and tension in the muscles surrounding the jaw resulting in swelling and inflammation. This leads to pain around the jaw hinge, at times influencing the ear too. Some bruxism patients experience a kind of popping sound on their joint when moving their jaw. People who suffer from severe teeth grinding problems may experience deafness in serious instances.
Sensitive Teeth – Teeth grinding patients may also experience the problem of sensitive teeth. They will particularly feel pain when consuming anything cold or hot. If you have unusually sensitive teeth, your tooth enamel may have worn off as a result of bruxing.
Bite Damage to the inside cheek area – Commonly, teeth grinding or subconscious bruxism can lead to bite damage to the inside of the cheek area as well as cause bite marks on the tongue.
Bruxism Symptoms and Signs in your Everyday Life
Behavior Patterns and Habits – Besides the physical symptoms of teeth grinding, this disorder can also affect your everyday life. Behavior patterns and habits like biting nails, holding objects like pencils in your mouth, chewing on the inner skin of your cheek, and teeth grinding are methods to de-stress and release tension.
Mostly, people perform these actions subconsciously. That is why the damage starts building up without the person being conscious of it. This is the reason bruxism is diagnosed very late. Individuals indulging in such habits have transformed these activities into a mechanical way of reducing stress without knowing the damage that occurs due to this.
Sleep Deprivation – Symptoms of teeth grinding can upset sleeping patterns, due to which the person wakes up groggy and tired in the morning without being aware of the actual cause. Though not completely aware of their condition, people suffering from bruxism may wake up in the middle of the night because they may be able to subconsciously hear the grinding noise or may experience pain due to muscle tension. The continuous loss of deep sleep will further result in social and health complications like accidents, strained relationships and depression.
Indigestion and Eating Disorders – Teeth grinding may also lead to difficulty in eating and chewing food. The discomfort and pain while eating may make a ‘bruxer’ miss their meals and eat smaller servings than before. In case the teeth are worn or sensitive and unable to properly chew food, it may lead to indigestion.
Emotional Disorders – Tension, depression, stress and anxiety are also known as the many signs of bruxism. They are probably a result of other symptoms like aches, pains and sleep deprivation.
If patients experience several symptoms of teeth grinding simultaneously, it will often result in further stress and tension. This can lead to critical anxiety disorders as well as depression, building a fierce cycle of pain and nervousness.
A medical research reports that depressed people tend to grind teeth more than others. That is the reason it is essential for people with symptoms of teeth grinding to find the cause of their stress and anxiety.