Grinding Teeth – What Is It and How to Treat It?
Grinding teeth’s medical term is bruxism. If you are suffering from this condition, you are not alone. In the US, there are approximately 30 million children and adults who grind and clench their teeth.
You could be suffering from this dental condition if you always wake up at night with sore jaws or teeth. Clenching of your jaws or grinding your teeth may develop at any time of your life.
It usually happened unconsciously when you sleep. Although it is rare, this unconscious grinding may also occur when you are awake. This happens when you are too engrossed on a task. Then, without thinking, you place your teeth together and put force by contracting your jaw muscles. This habit is common when you lift heavy objects or write.
However, when this unconscious clenching happens at night, while at sleep, it presents rhythmic contractions.
Teeth Grinding and Headache
Patients who grind their teeth are more likely to suffer from headaches, which are the most common symptoms of this unhealthy habit.
In addition to headache, you may also experience TMJ discomfort, stiffness of your neck, shoulders, ear pain, muscles aches, and some sleep disorders.
If this habit goes unchecked, it can fracture teeth. It may also result in abnormal wear and loss of teeth.
One of the causes of grinding teeth is stress. Too much consumption of caffeine and alcohol may also contribute to this condition.
Dentists think that this condition is more commonly found in patients who snore or have obstructive sleep apnea.
There are studies that showed a link between this condition and having a stressful work environment.
Can It Be Treated?
The treatment for grinding teeth or bruxism will depend on its cause.
For instance, if it is caused by a sleep disorder, your disorder will first be mitigated. When it is resolved, your condition is also addressed.
If it is the result of your lifestyle or stress, you should change your habits first before your bruxism can be managed.
You should visit your dentist to be evaluated. A comprehensive examination of your mouth will be performed by your dentist. From there, he/she can develop an ideal treatment plan based on your condition. It is important that grinding teeth treatment is specialized for you to make sure that it will actually treat this issue.
An occlusal appliance is usually prescribed. You may also refer to it as a biteguard or a nightguard. It is a removable appliance. That said, the success of this treatment will depend on your compliance. If you do not wear it every night, you will not obtain its benefits.
However, the compliance of the patients in wearing this appliance is dependent on the comfort it brings. If they feel comfortable wearing it, they are more likely to use it. Some patients think that this appliance may provide them more comfort if adjusted constantly. But adjusting it may not help increase the comfort that the patient wants.
This is an ideal treatment for grinding teeth if the cause is related to stress and anxiety. Some people said that hypnosis might help relieve this condition. It might provide long-term effects. Oftentimes, it is combined with occlusal appliance.
How Serious Is It?
Grinding teeth starts as early as when your teeth are still developing. Only three percent of adults continue to have this unhealthy habit. Even so, this brux can take a toll in your intervening years.
Enamel erosion is one of the serious complications of grinding teeth. Even though enamel is prone to wear down at 0.3 millimeters every ten years, bruxers experience erosion of their enamel for two millimeters when they reach their 20s.
The accumulated effects of this condition can produce greater damage to your teeth. This will include having your front teeth to wear down leading to them appearing flat. You will also experience cracks and broken fillings, which can usually lead to nerve damage.
Too much grinding can go down to the dentin causing high sensitivity to cold and heat. As you apply pressure to your gum line, you may experience gum recession.
When you meet your dentist for consultation about your condition, you should be ready with your medical records and a list of your symptoms and medications.