Bruxism is classified as grinding of the teeth and often involves clenching as well. Bruxism has numerous causes including bite related problems, stress, medical issues, some mediations, and even sleep apnea.
Not everyone is aware of bruxism or develops symptoms from it. Some symptoms of bruxism are headaches, wearing down of your teeth, jaw pain, or even facial muscle pain. In fact, bruxism is a big reason for tooth loss and gum recession.
As you can see there are numerous causes for bruxism so it has to be treated in different ways. If it is stress related and no other problems have developed then sometimes a nightguard is all that is needed. If the patient has jaw pain and other TMJ pain then a more comprehensive treatment is sometimes indicated. One of the new theories that relates to bruxism and sleep apnea is that patients brux to open the airway. Many studies are underway to evaluate this theory.
If you notice wear on your teeth, grinding or TMJ pain or noise, it may be prudent to seek the care of a dentist with special interest in TMJ problems. Whereas there is no recognized American Dental Association "TMJ specialist", there are many dentists who have focused their care on TMJ therapy and TMJ treatment. Neuromuscular Dentists are one of these areas that have interest in TMJ.