Many people grind their teeth at some point, but this habit can be detrimental to your oral health. Continuous grinding of the teeth has the ability to wear down your tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities and other complications. As such, it's ideal to avoid this habit for the good of your teeth. When you realize that you're grinding your teeth, perhaps when you're reading or driving, you can quickly stop this habit. However, there may be times that you grind your teeth for long periods without realizing it. In this case, it's important to notice a variety of symptoms that can suggest this habit. When you notice them, you can talk to your dentist for advice about how to curb the habit and prevent problems from arising.
Your Jaw Is Constantly Sore
While it's possible to develop a sore, tight jaw for a few different reasons, this physical symptom is often a sign that you've been grinding your teeth. Each time you grind your teeth back and forth, your jaw muscles are engaged. Given that it can be easy to grind your teeth for long periods of time, even without being conscious of what you're doing, this can create a lengthy workout for your jaw. If you can't immediately tell whether your jaw is sore, gently press the muscle between your earlobe and your cheek; if it's tender, you might be unknowingly grinding your teeth.
You Wake Up with Headaches
Many people who unknowingly grind their teeth while they sleep or lie in bed awake during the night will experience a headache in the morning. Although you can develop overnight headaches for other reasons, such as kinking your neck while you sleep, a headache that is prevalent in the morning is an indicator that you've been grinding your teeth overnight. This habit is common among people who are overly stressed; if you find a healthy way to relax before bedtime, you may notice that you don't get grinding-related headaches anymore.
You've Become Sensitive to Hot or Cold Foods
In cases of prolonged tooth grinding in which you've removed some of the enamel coating on your teeth, you may notice that you're more sensitive when you eat or drink foods that are hot or cold, such as ice water and coffee. Upon putting these foods or drinks into your mouth, you may experience a shooting pain or an unpleasant feeling that makes you cringe. If you often notice this symptom, you should schedule a dental visit to check on the health of your teeth.
For more information, talk to a dentist such as one at Tots to Teens Dental.