People sometimes grind their teeth without any symptoms or problems. However, regular and persistent teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, discomfort and even damage your teeth. This excessive teeth grinding is the main sign of having the condition called bruxism.
Getting to Know Bruxism
People can clench and grind without being aware of it. It can happen to individual affected by bruxismn during both the day and night. Sleep-related bruxism is often a bigger problem because it is harder to control.
The Pain – When bruxism is occurring frequently and severely, teeth grinding can aggravate the joints in your lower jaw. These are known as temporomandibular joints. Grinding can create pain in the joint area that causes earaches and headaches.
Furthermore, bruxism is a threat to your teeth as well. The habit of teeth grinding can wear down your enamel. This is one of the tissues that make up human tooth. Grinding can cause increased tooth sensitivity and results to chipped or broken teeth.
Stress-Related – Bruxism almost always occurs in association with other factors. You are most likely to clench or grind your teeth if you are anxious, tensed or frustrated. About 70% of bruxism cases that occur during sleep are thought to be related to stress and anxiety.
It is well documented that job related stress is detrimental to good sleep. As a consequence, it can be responsible for daytime sleepiness. It is also the most significant factor associated with bruxism. One study found that shift workers who suffered stress due to dissatisfaction with their shift-work schedule were more susceptible to bruxism than those who were satisfied and not stressed.
Smoking, caffeine intake and heavy alcohol consumption are also associated co-factors of bruxism.
Airway Compromise – The latest research is demonstrating that people with impaired breathing are more likely to clench their teeth. If you have trouble breathing well at night or find it difficult to breathe through your nose then it is important to get this checked out.
Clench Teeth – Even if you do not clench or grind your teeth now, doesn’t mean you’ll never have bruxism. Since stress, is one of the causes of bruxism, you can eventually develop teeth grinding sooner or later. This is mainly due to unexpected changes and the lifestyles that you practice.
Unaware – Since it happens commonly while you are sleeping, many people are unaware of it. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a telltale symptom of bruxism. If you also have unexplained facial pain, earaches or tenderness around the jaw joint, you could be grinding without knowing it. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.
Children Do it Often than Adults – Kids may grind because the top and bottom teeth aren’t aligned properly yet. Others do it as a response to pain, such as an earache or teething. Kids might grind their teeth as a way to ease the pain, just as they might rub a sore muscle. Many kids outgrow these fairly common causes for grinding. Children may also grind their teeth when they’re coping with earaches or teething. Oftentimes, it may be related to their jaw and tooth growth and development.
Treatable – in most cases, no treatment is needed. But if the problem becomes severe, there are always ways to stop clenching and gnashing the teeth at night.
To prevent damage to the teeth, mouth guards or appliances (splints) are often used to treat teeth grinding, clenching and TMJ disorders. A splint may help protect the teeth from the pressure of clenching.
Sometimes, just changing your sleeping position and simply eliminating caffeine or smoking before bed can reduce teeth grinding.
Signs and Symptoms
Clenching the teeth puts pressure on the muscles, tissues and other structures around your jaw. The symptoms can cause temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ). Grinding can wear down your teeth. It can be noisy enough at night to bother sleeping partners.
Symptoms of bruxism include:
- Anxiety, stress, and tension;
- Earache (due in part because the structures of the temporomandibular joint are very close to the ear canal and because you can feel pain in a different location than its source; this is called referred pain);
- Eating disorders;
- Muscle tenderness (especially in the morning);
- Hot, cold and sweet sensitivity in the teeth;
- Sore or painful jaw
Prevention is Better than Cure
The goal of most treatments are to reduce pain, prevent permanent damage to the teeth and reduce clenching as much as possible.
The following self-care steps may help relieve pain:
- Apply an ice or a wet heat to sore jaw muscles. Either option can help.
- Avoid eating hard foods like nuts, candies and steak.
- Avoid chewing gum.
- Drink plenty of water every day.
- Get plenty of sleep.
Learn physical therapy stretching exercises. This can help restore the action of the muscles and joints on each side of the head to get back to normal.
Massage the muscles of the neck, shoulders and face. Look for small, painful nodules called trigger points that can cause pain throughout the head and face. Relax your face and jaw muscles throughout the day. The goal is to make facial relaxation a habit.
Try to reduce your daily stress and learn relaxation techniques. If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program and seeing a physical therapist or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.
If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit. It would be really helpful if you have someone to talk to about your clenching concerns. Fortunately, at Happy Teeth an expert dentist is always ready to the rescue! Our team of expert dentists fully understands that the health of your teeth affects your whole body. Therefore, we offer holistic approach that begins with your teeth and promotes your total health.
We provide gentle, caring treatment that will make you feel totally comfortable, completely calm and smiling. Happy Teeth takes your worries of going to the dentist by turning it into a relaxed experience that is very calming and deeply soothing. No one else looks after you as gentle and completely happy as Happy Teeth. For more information, check our website at http://happyteeth.com.au/. Free yourself from bruxism today and lead a happy empowered life tomorrow!