Teeth grinding, which is medically called bruxism, is a condition where a person involuntarily grinds, gnashes and clenches their teeth. Teeth grinding doesn’t harm the teeth, but if teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, it can damage the teeth. Many individuals don’t realize that they are suffering from bruxism because the teeth grinding and clenching mostly occurs when the individual is asleep. But there are also cases where people grind their teeth during the day.
Symptoms of Bruxism
There are visible symptoms that would alert you that you are suffering from bruxism.
- Teeth grinding produces unpleasant noises which can wake up the partner sleeping in your room.
- Grinding increases teeth sensitivity or pain.
- Teeth are flattened, fractured or chipped.
- You may experience a locked jaw, and it may not open or close properly.
- Neck, jaw or face pain.
- Raised tissues on the teeth caused by cheek biting.
- Clenching the jaw under stress or anger.
- Pain in the ear, jaw joint or headache.
If you witness any of these experiences or your partner says you were clenching teeth while sleeping, then remember your house has a door that allows you to go out and visit the dentist.
Symptoms of bruxism are not just limited to adults; they can also be found in children. If the symptoms are ignored, then like adults, it can lead to further dental issues in children too. The clenching and grinding can wear down the tooth enamel and cause tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. When children clench their teeth, they often experience a sore jaw when they wake up or chew something. They may also experience headaches, facial pain or earaches. So, take your children to the dentist at the earliest.
Causes of Bruxism
The exact cause of bruxism has not been understood yet. There are many different reasons which are said to be the cause of bruxism in an adult. Some experts consider bruxism as a habit, but still, some attributes can cause bruxism.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress is the most common cause of teeth grinding. And so many people are not aware that they are a victim of teeth grinding because it mostly occurs during sleep. An individual may also grind teeth when they are awake and concentrating on something.
People with a sleeping disorder are also likely to attract teeth grinding. Sleep disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) causes teeth grinding. OSA sleep disorder interrupts your breath when you are asleep. Other sleeping disorders can also cause teeth grinding like:
- Talking or mumbling during sleep.
- Kicking or punching when asleep.
- A condition called sleep paralysis, which makes an individual temporarily unable to move or speak during sleep.
- Causing hallucinations where you see or hear unreal things while being semi-conscious.
Malocclusion of the Teeth and Jawline
When the upper and lower jawline or the position of teeth are not aligned, then they will grind with each other. Dental malocclusion is sometimes natural, and in some cases, it is caused by a dental operation that might change the tooth or the jawline position. Sometimes factors like nerve or muscle disease in the face are also seen as a potential cause of teeth grinding.
The Lifestyle of a Person
Emotional or development issues can affect the lifestyle of a person. Also, some drinking and food habits of an individual can cause teeth grinding or make it worse:
- Consumption of alcohol.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Consuming recreational drugs like ecstasy and cocaine.
- Drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee.
Side Effect of Medicines
Some medicines are also considered to be the cause of teeth grinding, especially the one that treats depression. The medicines have some side effects on dental health that lead to teeth grinding. Medications that include paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline are said to be the cause for teeth grinding.
Visit your dentist regularly, and they would diagnose if you are suffering from teeth grinding or not. If teeth grinding is ignored, then it can cause Temporomandibular (TMD) disorder.
Prevention and Treatment of Bruxism
If an individual’s teeth grinding is related to stress and anxiety, then a therapy or relaxation techniques can help reduce it. A dentist may also advise cutting down on the consumption of caffeine beverages like tea, coffee and colas, including other consumer products like chocolates and tobacco. Cutting down the consumption of alcohol may also be advised as alcohol intensifies teeth grinding.
If you are grinding your teeth when you are awake, we would recommend you stop your habit of chewing things like a pencil or pen. We would then suggest to train yourself to not clench your teeth by positioning the tongue between your teeth as it relaxes your jaw muscles. You would also be suggested to avoid chewing gum because gum chewing allows your jaw muscles to move, and it makes a person more likely to clench and grind their teeth.
We may also advise you to wear a night guard when sleeping, as it will prevent the teeth from clenching. Teeth grinding also removes the enamel from your tooth, which increases the risk of tooth sensitivity and other dental problems. If your teeth are damaged or chipped, we may recommend dental treatments like filling or crowns to restore the dental health.
If you are facing bruxism, then do visit your family dentist or us. As we said, it might seem a minimal problem, but if left untreated, be ready for consequences. Our dentists provide every dental related service with expertise, so you can visit us for any dental problems.