Teeth grinding also referred to as Bruxism is a dental health disease resulting from the grinding of your teeth and clenching of your jaw muscles. This condition remains unknown to most people despite posing serious oral health problems. Most Bruxism patients are unaware that they grind their teeth unless told so by an expert. Bruxism is of two types:
Sleep Bruxism – As the name suggests, this occurs at night when the victims are asleep and unaware of their teeth grinding. Unless told so by someone or a dentist, they remain oblivious.
Awake Bruxism – In this case, the victim grinds their teeth as a response to anxiety or stress. They may not be aware of the implications of this on their dental health until they start experiencing dental problems associated with teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding affects both children and adults and is caused by stress, depression or anxiety, sleep disorder, alcoholism and smoking. Teeth that are not properly aligned can also cause Bruxism. Teeth grinding can be accompanied by jaw clenching resulting in severe headaches, tear and wear on teeth, muscle aches and sore jaw joints and surrounding muscles, stiff neck and shoulders.
Teeth grinding once diagnosed can be prevented by:
Using a mouth guard to protect your teeth especially for sleep Bruxism. Mouth guards or splint prevent tooth wear, reduce pain and the sensation derived from teeth grinding. They are the most common form of treatment for Bruxism.
Getting therapy if your cause of Bruxism is stress, depression or anxiety. Once the depression and anxiety are managed, you will be able to stop grinding your teeth. Your therapist may also recommend other habits to better manage your stress besides grinding your teeth.
Teeth alignment to correct misaligned teeth. This may involve different dental procedures such as the use of braces, crowning or surgery but provides a long time solution to Bruxism as a result of misaligned teeth.
Muscle relaxants are usually administered by your dentist in case of severe clenching. The relaxants help relax your jaw muscles preventing clenching which leads to teeth grinding as well. The prescription details, pros and cons should be discussed with your dentist prior to administration.
Lifestyle changes also go a long way in treating Bruxism. For instance, stimulants such as coffee or soda should be avoided before bedtime. Similarly, alcohol significantly contributes to teeth grinding. Cutting off on the intake or total avoidance helps you sleep better, preventing teeth grinding.
There is not enough awareness on teeth grinding or Bruxism despite affecting 1 in every 3 persons. Unless told, those suffering from sleep Bruxism are not aware of their situation and will continue to grind their teeth to severe dental and muscle damage. Bruxism affects both children and adult and can be an indicator of other health problems. Though treatable, it is also preventable. If you bear symptoms of teeth grinding or if your partner mentions your grinding noises while asleep, visit your dentist for proper examination and treatment.