Teeth grinding, medically called bruxism is a common behavior and usually does not cause harm. But when the teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis it can cause damage to the teeth and also other health problems.
Grinding and clenching occurs mostly during sleep and is called sleep bruxism, while some individuals may grind and clench during the day also and this is called awake bruxism.
What causes Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding are usually caused by stress and anxiety. Some of the other causes for teeth grinding are:
- breathing airway issues,
- sleep apnea,
- jaw posture positions,
- an abnormal bite
- missing or crooked teeth,
- dental work that has changed jaw position or tooth positions
- trauma, stress and anxiety, as well as emotional and developmental issues.
In children, bruxism may sometimes be a response to earache or teething.
What are the effects of Teeth Grinding?
The different symptoms of teeth grinding include:
- Loud noise of Teeth grinding or clenching detected by a partner or a parent.
- Teeth those are cracked or broken.
- Gum recession
- Worn tooth enamel, uncovering deeper layers of your tooth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome
- Jaw tenderness or a locked jaw that won't open or close completely
- Jaw, neck or muscle pain and soreness
- Dull headache
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
- Sleep disruption
Teeth Grinding Treatment
- Teeth grinding are usually treated depending on the factors causing it.
- If the grinding occurs mostly at night, a sleep study might be suggested to find if any airway issue is the reason for the teeth grinding. If a poor airway is a contributing factor, then steps will have to be taken to treat the airway first and sometimes the teeth grinding will cease.
- A mouth guard fitted by a dentist will be helpful to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep. The mouth guard is worn when sleeping to protect the teeth from grinding.
- The other kinds of treatments that are usually used are Dietary changes, postural modifications, emotional therapy, medications, injections, tooth adjustments and dental work, orthodontics, surgery.
- If stress is the reason the patient grinds their teeth, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be recommended. Some of the ways by which stress can be reduced are attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants.
- If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, it has to be first treated in order to stop teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding in children
- Children grind their teeth when their baby teeth emerge or when their permanent teeth come out. Most children lose their teeth grinding habit after the permanent teeth come in.
- Children commonly grind their teeth during sleep rather than during waking hours. Some of the causes for teeth grinding are improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, illnesses and psychological factors, which includes anxiety and stress.
- Grinding of the baby teeth does not cause any big problems. Nevertheless, teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, headaches, wear on the teeth and TMD.
Prognosis for Teeth Grinding
The prognosis for teeth grinding can be done very well, if the underlying cause can be determined. If it cannot, then a properly fitted mouthguard are usually worn to protect the teeth from further damage and to lessen the effects on the bone, muscle, and tissues.
Babies and toddlers grinding their teeth should always have an airway evaluation
Authored By Dr Sanjay N - Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopaedics, Bangalore