Have you ever found yourself clenching, grinding, or gnashing your teeth without even realising? Yes, that is what is commonly known as Teeth Grinding or Bruxism. Most of us do this from time to time. While some do it in their sleep, others do it when they are wide awake.
People do not usually realise that they are grinding their teeth as they are in deep sleep. Their partner is the one who hears the grinding noises in the night and is often the first to notice the condition. And for children who sleep with their parents, their parents may see this grinding manoeuvre in their child. Teeth grinding is in many cases a result of stress. For example, you may find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth when you are anyways trying hard to focus or anxious about something or someone.
Signs and symptoms of teeth grinding include:
- Headache, jaw joint or ear pain
- Grinding sounds while the person is asleep
- Aching or stiffness in the jaws while chewing, especially during breakfast
- Aching teeth, particularly just after waking up
- Aching or stiffness of the face and forehead just after waking up
- Tooth indentations on the tongue
- Clenching the jaw when angry, concentrating, or anxious
- Teeth sensitivity to temperature
- Cracked or chipped tooth enamel
- Raised tissue on the inside of the cheek due to friction from excessive biting
- Loose teeth
The following are the potential effects of Bruxism:
- Cracked or fractured tooth enamel at multiple spots
- Wear and tear fn the teeth which are far above normal rates
- Strain on the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint)
- Broken teeth or broken restorations such as fillings
- Sore jaw muscles
- Pain in the jaw joint with restricted jaw movement
- Enlargement of the jaw muscles
- Tooth loss; in advanced stages
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold things
The cause of Bruxism may either be due to biological (e.g. genetics), psychological (e.g. personality traits), or external factors such as caffeine, smoking, alcohol and some drugs. Your dentist or other oral health professionals can examine the influence of these factors.
Bruxism is also common in children. However, it is not generally a damaging habit which would require treatment as their teeth and jaws are in the development stage. Further, most kids outgrow the condition by the time they reach their teenage.
You should consult with your dentist if you find yourself often grinding or clenching your teeth. They will take a thorough look at your teeth and recommend you the possible treatment options that may include:
- Repair of Tooth Damage.
- A custom-made mouthguard (‘bite splint’) is fabricated which is to be worn at night while sleeping so that you grind on the mouthguard and not the teeth.
However, in most cases, this technique will only help with the symptoms and will not stop you from grinding altogether.
- Cognitive behaviour therapy
- Stress management therapy
- Regular exercise
- Relaxation techniques
- Medication to relaxes the muscles