The term for grinding teeth is called “bruxism.” It is the action of unconsciously clenching or gnashing the teeth together. There are two types of bruxism–awake and asleep.
Most sufferers of bruxism subconsciously grind their teeth at night– this is known as sleep bruxism. It can also be a daytime affliction which is known as awake bruxism in which a person unconsciously grinds their teeth during the day.
What Makes a Person Grind Their Teeth?
Bruxism can be brought on by anxiety and stress; the cause of over 70 percent of cases. It can result in long-lasting tooth damage as well as headaches, jaw pain, and earaches. Though teeth grinding usually occurs at night and for reasons of stress or anxiety bruxism can also occur for other reasons.
What Causes Bruxism?
Taking prescription antipsychotic, psychotropic, or antidepressant drugs such as Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) can result in bruxism. These are two of the most popular medications that cause bruxism in patients.
Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco excessively, or doing recreational drugs can also result in tooth grinding.
Having an occlusal discrepancy–when the upper and lower jaws do not align correctly– can also result in bruxism. Also, having crooked or missing teeth can make you grind your teeth. Yet, bruxism that is a result of jaw issues will quickly diminish once the problem is resolved.
What are the Signs of Bruxism?
Some common signs and symptoms of bruxism include the following:
● Sometimes the noises made by grinding teeth can awaken the person you may be sleeping with.
● Teeth may appear flattened, chipped, loose, or fractured.
● Tooth enamel might be worn out, revealing the tooth’s deeper sections
● The person may experience tooth sensitivity or pain
Treatment for Bruxism
The primary goal when treating bruxism is to decrease any pain resulting from tooth grinding. As well as prevent further tooth damage and cut down on the amount of tooth grinding/clenching that is occuring.
Dentists treat bruxism by prescribing a dental device called a mouthguard or splint. This is done to protect the teeth from further harm. The mouthguard your dentist prescribes you will ensure your jaw rests in a more relaxed state.
You can also treat your bruxism by icing the muscles in your jaw. This will be a good relief for the pain. Do not eat foods that are hard to chew and every now and then relax the muscles in your face.
How can I stop clenching or grinding my teeth?
● Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages. These can cause your jaw muscles to contract while sleeping due to interrupted sleep patterns.
● Do not chew on pencils or anything other than food.
● Concentrate on re-training yourself not to grind or clench teeth.
Can a vitamin deficiency be linked to bruxism? Yes, a deficiency in certain vitamins–magnesium and calcium may be a linkage to grinding one’s teeth. This is another reason for maintaining a well-balanced diet and taking vitamin supplements if needed.
Teeth Grinding in Children
Teeth grinding is just as common in children as adults. Children can develop bruxism between the ages of 4 and 8. However, parents are not always aware of it. Instances of bruxism in children increase from age 10-14; then declines after age 14.
There is hope if you grind your teeth and are experiencing discomfort. Call and visit your dental professional and have an exam done to ensure you have no underlying jaw issues. In addition, make sure your mental and emotional health is in check; if you are suffering anxiety or stress–or taking medication for it, talk to your doctor about options. Bruxism is not a life sentence; it can be resolved.
Walled Lake Dentist has been providing dental care for over 40 years. We pride ourselves in offering a personalized experience which includes a full range of dental services including cosmetic dentistry and dental treatments such as dental implants. Only the most current and advanced dental technology and techniques are used in our practice.
Dr. Hechtman can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth during sleep. He can also do an oral evaluation to see exactly what is going on, how much damage you have, if any, and rule out any underlying medical issues.
Our goal is to work with our patients in achieving and maintaining long term dental health and a beautiful smile. Call us today at 248-669-5221 for a Free consultation!