The Gripping Truth: Facts About Teeth Grinding

Teeth Grinding or Clenching can lead to long term health problems

Bruxism: The chronic clenching (tightly holding top and bottom teeth together) and or grinding (sliding–while clenched–back and forth) of teeth.

Occasionally or from time to time–grinding or clenching teeth–can be a normal, uneventful thing for most of people. Done on a regular or chronic basis teeth grinding and clenching will eventually be damaging to teeth, oral health, even overall health.

  • Why do people grind their teeth

The most common reasons for chronic grinding of teeth is an improper or abnormal tooth alignment, and missing or crooked teeth. In some instances Bruxism, particularly the clenching of teeth–often and long enough to cause damage–is caused by anxiety or stress.

  • How you know if you’re grinding your teeth

Typically individuals who teeth grinding are unaware of the habit because most teeth grinding occurs at night while they are asleep. Generally people learn that they grind their teeth because a family member, house-mate or loved one hears the grinding and informs them. A constant dull headache, tender jaw muscles, or sore jaw and neck muscles can be telltale of bruxism. Your dentist can help determine if you suspect bruxism by carefully inspecting the surfaces of molars and teeth for signs of scraping and excessive wear.

  • How is teeth grinding or bruxism harmful

Bruxism is a serious condition that, in addition to posing serious risks to the teeth and oral cavity, can also lead to other health conditions like TMJ, TMD even hearing loss.

The worst cases of teeth grinding, if left untreated, can loosen teeth, fracture teeth and even cause the loss of teeth. After long term grinding teeth can be worn down significantly, requiring some people to need tooth replacement or dentures. When such extensive damage occurs the jaw bone can be effected, even the contours of the face and general appearance of a person can change.

  1. Bruxism, or teeth grinding can lead to chronic pain and headaches along with damage to teeth and surrounding tissue
  2. Bruxism, or teeth grinding can lead to chronic pain and headaches along with damage to teeth and surrounding tissue
  • How to stop grinding your teeth

Many people who need to stop grinding their teeth seek their dentist for a specially made mouth guard to protect teeth, at night,from grinding.

When it has been determined that stress may be an underlying cause of bruxism, a physician may help determine options for reducing stress. Counseling, various types of therapy, and a reliable, consistent exercise program are some of the most effective an common aids in stress reduction. When needed, a patient may also employ various medications that can help with relaxing muscles and aiding in sleep.

The easiest and most common adjustments to eliminate bruxism can be done at home without anything but a few easy changes:

  1. Training yourself to relax your jaw muscle during the day. Even holding the tip of your tongue between your teeth helps to re-train jaw muscles to “unclench”.
  2. Avoid chewing gum, chewing on pens or pencils or anything except food.
    • Those habits can train jaw muscles to stay clenched and make it more likely to grind your teeth later.
  3. Cut back on caffeine, things like cola, coffee, tea and chocolate.
  4. Eliminate alcohol.
    • Consuming alcohol tends to intensify teeth grinding.

Children may grind their teeth too

While there is no clear reason why children can sometimes grind their teeth, it is somewhat common. Generally children grind their teeth at night, with increasing frequency during illnesses, or other medical conditions, (everything from nutritional deficiencies and parasites to allergies have been cited). Often the underlying cause may be irregular contact between upper and lower teeth or shifting teeth as new teeth come in or baby teeth get loose.

Baby teeth don’t typically suffer the regular problems from grinding, however children can still have jaw pain and headaches associated with bruxism. Ultimately if you suspect your child may be grinding their teeth it is definitely something to discuss with their dentist and potentially their pediatrician to evaluate any potential issues and eliminate the problem all together.

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