Millions of people conceivably clench and grind their teeth from time to time. Infrequent teeth grinding, also known as bruxism in medical terms, does not typically cause harm. However, when teeth grinding occurs regularly, your teeth can become damaged and the grinding can cause other dental health complications in due time.What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is when an individual grinds (defined as excessively rubbing the surface of your teeth across one another), or clenches (characterized by firmly holding top and bottom) their teeth together. It is a disorder that affects both men and women, children and adults, as well as every socio-economic level and race. Regrettably, most individuals don't understand that this grinding and clenching means they have bruxism and the symptoms are starting to manifest. That's why it is imperative to recognize the symptoms and causes of bruxism, so that it can be treated prior to the effects becoming severe.What Causes People to Grind Their Teeth?
Though teeth grinding can be produced by anxiety and stress, it frequently happens during sleep and it is most probable that it is caused by crooked/missing teeth or an abnormal bite. It can also be triggered by a sleep disorder like sleep apnea.How Do I Know If I Grind My Teeth?
Since grinding usually occurs while you sleep, most people are oblivious to the fact that they are grinding their teeth. However, if you often wake up with a dull headache or you feel soreness in your jaw each time you rise, your body may be revealing symptoms of bruxism. Often times, people learn that they've been grinding their teeth by a loved one who happens to hear the grinding at night.
If you are not sure if you might be grinding your teeth, speak to a dental professional. He or she can examine your mouth as well as your jaw for telltale signs of bruxism. For instance, they may look for signs of jaw tenderness and extreme wear on your teeth.How Destructive Is Teeth Grinding?
In various instances, severe teeth grinding may result in loosening your teeth, cracking, or even tooth loss. The severe grinding may wear teeth right down to stubs. When that happens, crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, partial dentures, or even complete dentures may be required.
Not only can chronic teeth grinding cause damage, but it can also result in losing teeth. Bruxism will also affect your jaw, worsen or cause TMD/TMJ, and it can even change the appearance of your facial structure.How Can I Stop Grinding My Teeth?
If you know that you are definitely grinding your teeth at night, it's crucial that you speak to your dentist so that he/she can fit you with a mouth guard that will protect your teeth from grinding as you sleep.
If stress is the cause of your grinding, then ask your dentist or doctor about feasible options to diminish your stress levels. You may find that therapeutic counseling for stress, signing up to an exercise program, consulting a physical therapist, or being prescribed muscle relaxants are amid some of the options that may be presented.
If it's a sleep disorder that is triggering the grinding, treating it may lessen or fully eliminate the grinding routine.
Some of the guidelines to help you eliminate teeth grinding consist of:
- Avoiding or cutting back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine. I.e. coffee, soda, and chocolate.
- Avoiding alcohol. Teeth grinding has the tendency of becoming more intense after you've consumed alcohol.
- Quitting nervous habits like chewing on pens or pencils or anything that is not edible. You should also avoid chewing gum because it lets your jaw muscles get more used to clenching and increases your likelihood to grind your teeth.
- Training yourself to prevent grinding or clenching your teeth. If you catch yourself grinding or clenching throughout the day, place the tip of your tongue in between your teeth as a guard. This is a good way to train your jaw muscles to relax.
- Performing exercises with your jaw that relaxes your muscles at night. You can practice this by holding a warm washcloth up against your cheeks directly in front of your earlobe.
Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?
The main problem with grinding your teeth is not only limited to adults. Roughly 15% to 33% of kids grind their teeth. Kids who grind their teeth are inclined to do so during two peak times -- when their baby teeth develop and also when their permanent teeth arrive. Most kids kick the teeth grinding habit after these two sets of teeth have fully grown in.
Most frequently, kids grind their teeth while they sleep instead of during the hours when they're awake. No one is certain why kids grind their teeth but deliberations include inadequately aligned teeth or unbalanced contact between the upper and lower teeth, ailments and additional medical conditions (like nutritional deficits, allergies, endocrine disorders), and psychological issues including stress and anxiety.
Grinding of baby teeth seldom results in complications. Nevertheless, Bruxism can cause pain in the jaw, wear on the teeth, headaches, and TMD/TMJ. If your child's teeth look worn or if your child is complaining of tooth pain or sensitivity, it's time to consult your dentist.
Tips to help your child stop grinding their teeth include:
- Reducing your child's stress levels, especially right before bed.
- Try stretching and massage exercises that help relax the muscles.
- Ensure that your child's regular diet consists of plenty of water. Dehydration has often been linked to teeth grinding.
- If your child is a teeth grinder, ask your dentist to monitor their teeth for signs of wear.
- Intervention is not typically required with toddlers. Yet, older children may need provisional crowns or other approaches, such as a night guard, to stop the grinding.
The Bottom Line
Bruxism is habitual, which indicates that it turns into a habit very rapidly and is tremendously hard to get rid of. The problem with this disorder is that even though, the original cause is eliminated, the disorder that developed consequently, remains. So, if a person develops this disorder at a time when they are under extreme stress which later on is relieved, the habit of teeth grinding, and clenching may have developed an unconscious action which the individual may find tough to get rid of.
As with most dental complaints, seeking professional advice and treatment during the early stages of Bruxism is key to prevent permanent damage of your adult teeth.