Do You Grind Your Teeth?
Bruxism is an increasingly common condition where people gnash or grind their teeth, sometimes unconsciously, clenching them together to the point where it causes headaches, damaged teeth and jaw pain.
Our teeth are designed to exert force on the foods we eat, allowing us to break it up and chew it. The jaws use a lot of force to do this; about 175 pounds per square inch (psi) where they’re working on food between the teeth.
When the teeth are grinding together without the cushion of food between them, the direct pressure is even greater with the result that significant damage can be caused over time. Teeth become worn, fractured, the jaws themselves may ache or the patient may have frequent headaches.
Gnashing of Teeth by Day-and Night
Crescent Dental often sees patients who have damage from grinding their teeth subconsciously during the day. Often a result of sublimated stress, it’s a habit than can be corrected if it happens during waking hours, once the patient is made aware of the fact that they do clench or grind their teeth.
Patients who grind their teeth by night, however, in ‘sleep bruxism’ are often at a loss to explain why they have a sore jaw or worn teeth. In fact, it’s often their partners awaking to the odd noise of teeth being compressed against each other that provides the explanation for the symptoms.
Signs of Teeth Grinding
If you’re grinding your teeth severely enough to cause problems, particularly if you have ‘sleep bruxism’, you may experience the following:
- Teeth are worn down, chipped (very common result of teeth clenching) or fractured
- Worn tooth enamel
- Worsening of tooth sensitivity
- Sore jaw muscles or tightness in the jaw area
- Headache or ear ache due to jaw contractions
- Unexplained facial pain
- Marks on the inside of the cheek or tongue
- TMJ - problems with the temporomandibular joints casing pain or clicking when you open and close your mouth. Grinding your teeth puts pressure on these joints.
If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, it’s important to get to your dentist to evaluate the damage. Fracturing of teeth can allow bacteria to get into the tooth and potentially damage the nerve of the tooth as well as the gums.
Suspected Causes of Teeth Grinding
The root causes of bruxism are not fully understood, but many common factors in adults seem to be stress- related and include:
- Anxiety, tension or stress
- Frustration or anger
- Response to pain in adults and children
- Sleep problems and nightmares
- Poor alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion)
- Rare response to certain types of medication
- Illegal substances (ecstasy; methamphetamine)
- Some caffeinated beverages and other legal stimulants
Effective Treatment for Teeth Grinding
The dental team at Crescent Dental will be able to tell if you are showing the symptoms of bruxism as part of your reoutine dental examination. They can work to repair the damage that has already been caused, and help each patient work to overcome their teeth-grinding habit.
In the case of sleep bruxism, our dentists can provide you with a specialised bite guard to act as a cushion between your upper and lower teeth, preventing them from becoming worn or chipped by the unconscious jaw pressure exerted in your sleep.
Teeth Grinding in Children
Children often grind their teeth; it’s quite common in childhood but tends to disappear as the child gets older and is usually resolved completely with the onset of adolescence.
If you child is grinding his/her teeth, take them to the dentist as soon as you become aware of the habit to ensure no major damage is being done, and to avoid future dental issues.