Do you ever wake up from a night’s sleep with sore teeth and jaws? You could be grinding your teeth.
The excessive clenching or grinding of your teeth, often without being aware that you are doing it is called bruxism. Some people grind their teeth only during sleep; this condition is called “nocturnal bruxism” or “sleep-related bruxism”. Others grind their teeth during the daytime as well. Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time.
Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
People with severe bruxism can fracture dental fillings or cause other types of tooth damage. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. Severe bruxism has also been blamed for some cases of unexplained jaw and facial pain or morning headaches.
A video below illustrates what happens when you clench & grind your teeth:
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
Teeth grinding can have a variety of psychological and physical causes. In many cases, it has been linked to stress, but it can also simply be the body’s reaction to the teeth being aligned wrong or a poor bite (the way the teeth come together).
Bruxism can sometimes occur as a complication of severe brain injury, or a symptom of certain rare neuromuscular diseases involving the face.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching also can be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, including antidepressant medications, including fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil).
Symptoms of Bruxism
- Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles
- A grinding sound at night, which may disturb the sleep of someone who shares a bedroom with a “bruxer”
- A dull morning headache
- Jaw muscles that are tight or painful, especially in the morning
- Chronic facial pain
- Damaged teeth, fractured dental fillings and injured gums
- Clicking, popping or grating noises in the jaw joint when opening and closing
Treatment of Bruxism
How can you stop clenching or grinding your teeth? It depends on the cause. Is it due to a sleep disorder, lifestyle factors or stress and anxiety? It is important to have your dentist evaluate you with a comprehensive exam and develop a treatment plan that is specialized for you.
The best way to protect your teeth and prevent tooth wear and fracture is to wear a special teeth guard.
The SCI (Sleep Clench Inhibitor) is a small tailor-made splint or teeth guard that prevents the back teeth from touching at night, minimising clench intensity. By inhibiting the unwanted muscle activity, the tension that can cause headaches, jaw and neck pain is greatly reduced. The device is small, inexpensive and very comfortable to wear.
If anxiety or stress is believed to be the cause of your grinding, then behavioural management is a must. Relaxation techniques, meditation and psychoanalysis can help manage the stress and anxiety. Hypnosis has also been found to help relieve grinding of your teeth. A study reported by the Bruxism Association found hypnosis to have positive long-term effects.
If you suspect that you might have a problem with bruxism, make an appointment today.
As a result, you will:
- sleep better (and you won’t wake your partner with the grinding noises)
- eliminate morning headaches
- stop jaw pain
- save your teeth