As most of you know I myself have dealt with acid reflux disease in my life. Unfortunately poorly treated at times. This lack of proper treatment has caused several issues at times but one I was not expecting involved my jaw and teeth.
You see, the pain from acid reflux has often woken me up at night. It has also caused me to clench and grind my teeth. Over time this clenching and grinding became very common place and began to damage both my teeth and tempromandibular joints (TMJ).
If you also clench and grind your teeth you may notice that you wake up with horrendous headaches and feel like you did not get any rest as all. You may notice that the edge of your tongue is scalloped shaped from pushing it against your teeth all night. Often your dentist will notice additional wear on your teeth and you may even clench hard enough to break a tooth like I did.
The first line of defense is usual the use of an oral splint. The splint may be hard or soft depending on what your dentist determines is right for your individual case. There are also many over the counter splints that you can try. The oral splint works by protecting the teeth and by interrupting the normal grinding cycle. Splinting generally provides relief for a lot of patients.
If you continue to have pain the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may help to lessen symptoms. The use of heat on the affected area can also help to release some of the tension in the muscle. If these basic things do not work then you need to get additional help from your dentist or physician.
Remember, if the reason you are grinding your teeth is due to acid reflux pain then you need to make sure the reflux issue is treated. Untreated reflux can also damage your teeth so ignoring this issue can be a double whammy on your oral health.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and graduate work in public health nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.