Teeth grinding (bruxism), is a serious condition affecting both children and adults. At Smiles Nambour we often see the results of teeth grinding and we are often called upon to repair teeth that have been damaged by bruxism.
Though most of us grind our teeth now and then due to unpleasant stimuli (e.g. annoying noises) a chronic condition sometimes exists in which patients are not aware of their habit. This condition is called bruxism and it is often not identified by the patient, but by a loved one who notices the noise and grinding.
Today we will introduce you to some of the symptoms, results, and prevention methods for bruxism.
Types of Bruxism
There are two forms of bruxism. The first is when people actually grind their teeth together. This is like chewing with no food in your mouth – your teeth rub against each other without a protective layer of food between them. The second form of bruxism is jaw clenching. Jaw clenching tends to be more common during the day and many people do it while angry, anxious, or during periods of intense concentration. Nighttime bruxism is a bit more complicated. Because it occurs while a person is asleep, it is cannot be treated with conscious effort or behavioral change. Therefore, nighttime bruxism is usually treated by your dentist, often with a dental appliance referred to as a mouth guard.
Signs and symptoms
Because bruxism sometimes happens during sleep, signs, and symptoms may have been left out and unnoticed.
Signs and symptoms of bruxism are:
- Loud grinding and clenching of teeth
- Flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth
- Worn enamel of tooth which exposes the inner layers of the tooth
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Tired or tight jaw muscles or locked jaw
- Soreness of the jaw, face, and neck
- Pains like an earache
- Headaches near the temples
- Disrupted sleep
If any of the signs and symptoms happen to you, it is best to see your Smiles Nambour dentist for a complete check up.
What causes sleep bruxism?
Sleep arousal. There is some evidence that bruxism is linked to sleep related arousals in which the cardiac and respiratory systems show a rise in activity. Sleep arousals are often accompanied by increased muscle activity such as in the jaw, which can cause teeth grinding. Oftentimes, these arousals are due to sleep apnea and/or snoring.
Psychological causes. Bruxism can also result from mental disorders, stress, anxiety, and other intense emotions. Bruxism is found more often in aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive personalities.
Physical causes. Some physical issues can cause bruxism including stomach acid reflux in the esophagus and improper alignment of the upper and lower teeth. Bruxism can also come from side effects to taking substances such as tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and medications for anxiety and depression. In children bruxism has sometimes been found as a response to pain from earaches or teething.
Most treatments try to reduce the frequency and severity of bruxism episodes while some work to repair the physical damages of bruxism such as tooth erosion and facial muscle pain.
Here are some “at-home” approaches to daytime bruxism:
Jaw Exercises/Mindful Teeth Placement. Open the mouth as wide as comfortably possible and touch your tongue to your front teeth. This action relaxes the jaw muscles. Don’t allow your top and bottom teeth to make contact except when chewing.
Self-Massage. Massaging your jaw can help your jaw muscles relax and reduce tension in the area. Additionally, holding a warm towel against your jaw can promote muscle and general relaxation.
Stress reduction. Reducing stress can be an effective way to combat bruxism. Many relaxation techniques exist, such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, deep breathing exercises, massage, progressive muscle relaxation, and much more.
For bruxism at night, you’ll need to visit your dentist and discuss treatment. In rare cases this includes drug therapy, but the most common response is a custom-fitted mouth guard. Unlike drug or behaviour therapies that provide only partial reduction of teeth grinding, a mouth guard offers continuous protection of tooth enamel and cushioning for jaw muscles.
Night guards not only protect teeth physically, by putting a barrier between them, they also actively reduce the frequency and severity of teeth grinding and clenching episodes. Additionally, there are no known side-effects of wearing mouth guards and high quality dental night guards are relatively inexpensive and long-lasting.
Dentistry at Smiles Nambour
Smiles Nambour is the perfect choice for dental care in the Nambour area, from stopping dry mouth in the bud to complicated treatments such as root canals! Our professional staff is dedicated to providing you with personalised, quality dental care.
Smiles Nambour offers a comprehensive list of general, restorative and cosmetic dental services for you and your entire family.
A visit to Smiles Nambour is an investment in your dental health and attractive smile!