Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism. It is a common but unhealthy habit that occurs when you clench your jaw or grind your teeth subconsciously. Teeth grinding at night is the most common among people. It is also known as nocturnal or sleep bruxism. It may be impossible to know when you are grinding, or you may be aware but feel unable to stop when it’s a nervous habit. This condition is often painful and can really harm the teeth.
The impact of teeth grinding
Teeth are made to be strong, but they cannot endure constant grinding. Over time, the tooth’s enamel weakens, causing severe damage to the tooth. People with bruxism are likely to develop oral problems such as tooth breakage, cavities, tooth loss, and tooth decay.
Teeth grinding also affects the jaw. People may develop difficulty in closing or opening the mouth. Additionally, another common problem is pain when chewing. Nocturnal bruxism is linked to many conditions, including sleep apnea, snoring, stress, and anxiety. Heavy caffeine and alcohol users, individuals suffering from depression, and smokers are also likely to have the condition.
Symptoms of teeth grinding
Teeth grinding cases vary, and most are not similar. Every case is unique. Here are a few common symptoms:
- Fractured teeth
- Stiff neck
- Stiff shoulders
- Ear aches
- Enlarged facial muscles
- Loss of tooth enamel
- Sore gums or teeth
- Unusual wear patterns on the enamel
- Jaw pain
Most cases do not need any treatment as most children outgrow the habit before adulthood. Furthermore, adults tend to have less severe issues with grinding than children. However, there are cases where individuals grind teeth bad enough to harm their teeth. Most grinding that happens at night is done subconsciously, hence causing more damage. If this condition is severe, there are medications, therapies, and dental services available to treat discomfort or pain in the jaw and severe toot damage.
What a dentist may do to help
If an individual has bruxism, there are some ways a dental professional will suggest for improving or preserving affected teeth. Some of these treatments are designed to improve teeth condition but might not help the individual stop the habit. Some of the remedies may work better than others, depending on an individual’s condition and the condition’s underlying cause. A dentist is best equipped to assist you to solve the problem. The dentists fulfils the following functions in treating bruxism.
Splints and mouth guards
Nightguards are also known as occlusal appliances, splints, or mouth guards. If you have a teeth-grinding problem, a dentist will likely suggest cushioning your teeth to stop them from grinding when you sleep. They are also essential in reducing pain in the jaw and mouth. Nightguards can be acquired from stores or can be custom made by the dentist.
The proper nightguard to buy depends on the severity of the condition. It is important to consult the dentist to decide the best fit. Most individuals with chronic bruxism require custom-made mouthguards to protect the teeth from severe damage. They also reduce pain in the jaw. Custom made nightguards are expensive that over the counter (OTC) options and are a comfortable choice for most individuals.
Study has shown that botulinum toxin (Botox) may reduce the pain and the grinding frequency. The study was conducted on healthy participants that had the condition. However, a later study showed that scientists needed to conduct extensive research on the topic to confirm the effectiveness and safety of using botulinum toxin in treating bruxism.
This is a dental procedure used to level or reshape the enamel of teeth. It is usually effective for individuals that have misaligned, crooked or crowded teeth. Depending on the severity of the problem, an additional procedure known as additive coronoplasty may be undertaken to build up teeth.
This is a technique used to help people eliminate a habit or become aware of their behavior. It can be used to awake bruxism and alleviate sleep. A biofeedback therapist teaches patients how to control jaw movements through auditory, vibratory, and visual feedback generated from electromyography. Limited research has been conducted on the effectiveness of this method.
Other ways bruxism can be treated include; stress-reduction techniques, meditation, yoga, talk therapy, exercise, and jaw and tongue muscle exercises.