Teeth Grinding / Clenching ( Bruxism)

Bruxism EffectsGrinding teeth is a known occurrence amongst a number of people. Teeth grinding and Jaw clenching is known as Bruxism. Most people who clench and / or grind their teeth, do so during sleep.

It may also happen when they are concentrating or focusing on work, or are under stress. Very often, they are not aware that they are doing so.

Teeth clenching and grinding does not always manifest symptoms; however, some people get facial pain and headaches. It can wear down the teeth over time, and cause sensitivity of the teeth & pain to bite or chew.

Effects of Teeth Clenching

SYMPTOMS OF TEETH GRINDING / CLENCHING

Symptoms of teeth grinding can include –

  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Pain, stiffness & tightness in the jaw joint (also known as the temporomandibular joint) and in the muscles surrounding the jaw joint.
  • Difficulty opening the mouth wide.
  • Earache
  • Worn down and broken teeth or fillings
  • Hairline fractures within teeth
  • Sensitivity of teeth to bite.
  • Waking up in the morning or in the middle of the night with tightness in the face and tension in the jaw muscles.
  • licking or popping sounds in the jaw whilst eating

There is usually a history of stress or anxiety.

CAUSES OF TEETH GRINDING / CLENCHING

1) The most common cause of teeth grinding is stress or anxiety.

It may be done during the day, but very often it is done at night time when the individual is asleep and unaware.

During sleep, our brain is processing information and running through the events of the previous day(s).

Often the cause is not clear.

2) Another cause of teeth grinding and clenching are certain medications.

In particular, teeth grinding can be linked to a type of anti-depressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor( SSRI).

3) Certain lifestyle factors can make teeth clenching more like likely

These include:
– drinking alcohol
– smoking
-using recreational drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine and amphetamine based drugs
-Heavy consumption of caffeinated drinks such as tea /coffee or Coca-Cola or energy drinks such as Redbull (4 more cups per day).

WHEN TO SEE THE DENTIST

Seeing a dentist to address the problems advisable if

– your teeth are worn, damaged or sensitive.
– your jaw, face or ear is painful
– your partner says you make a grinding sound in your sleep.

The dentist will check your teeth and jaws for signs of teeth grinding..

TREATMENT OF TEETH GRINDING / CLENCHING

Treatment involves constructing a mouth splint, known as an occlusal splint.

This is custom made by the dentist and involves taking impressions of the teeth and a special bite registration so that the splint fits in with your bite.

The occlusal splint is to be worn to bed at night to reduce the action of clenching and grinding of the teeth, and take the pressure off the jaw joints, hence eliminating facial pain and headaches.

Occlusal Splint

It also reduces tooth pain and prevents further wear and damage to the teeth & protects the teeth & jaw joints against further wear & tear.

Other treatments include muscle relaxation exercises and massages of the head and neck region and the temporomandibular joint area.

If you have stress or anxiety, cognitive behavioural therapy should also be considered.

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