bruxism and teeth grinding
Dentists,  Health

Bruxism and Teeth Grinding: What You Need to Know

What Is Bruxism and Why Do You Need Treatment for the Condition?

Bruxism is a common dental health condition that affects thousands of individuals, but it can damage your teeth and facial bones. In some cases, you will know that you are grinding your teeth, but in many cases, teeth grinding is a subconscious habit that occurs when someone is sleeping or experiencing extreme stress. When you have your routine examination from your local dentist, she may notice the early signs of bruxism such as chips on the enamel of the teeth. If you continue to grind your teeth, then it can lead to serious problems, so you should consider these symptoms of this bad habit:

• Popping sounds from the jaw’s joints

• Headaches in the morning

• Teeth sensitivity

• Pain in the face or neck

• Reduction in saliva

• Runny nose

• Sinus congestion

• Breathing difficulties during the day

• Sleep apnea at night

• Loose, chipped, fractured or flattened teeth

• Tinnitus in the ears

• Stuffy ears

• Inability to open or close the mouth properly

• Dental malocclusions

• Clicking sounds from the jaw while talking or chewing

• Loud snoring while sleeping

• Tight jaw muscles

• Damage to the inner area of the facial cheeks

A dentist will try to determine if you are grinding your teeth at night or during the day to plan a treatment that is appropriate for the condition.

From Dr. Irina Kellerman-Volk of 3V Dental Associates, a Port Washington, NY dentist:

In teenagers and adults, how long bruxism lasts depends on its cause. For example, bruxism can last for many years if it is related to stress that doesn’t go away. However, if bruxism is being caused by a dental problem, it should stop when the teeth are repaired and realigned. Often this occurs within a few dental visits.

What Are the Major Causes of Teeth Grinding?

If you have bruxism, then you might wonder what causes the condition, and dental experts have identified these reasons for teeth grinding:

• Coping mechanism for stress

• A bad habit that begins during childhood

• Muscle tension in the face

• Anger

• Chronic stress

• Poor chewing habit

• Misaligned teeth

• Having acid reflux disease

• Some types of dementia conditions

• Hyperactive disorders

• Genetics

• Medications

• Smoking cigarettes

• Facial abnormalities

• Bite problems

How Many People Grind Their Teeth?

Many young children will grind their teeth, but this habit tends to go away, but some individuals continue the habit, leading to additional health problems that require treatment. Statistics reveal that up to 30 percent of the population will grind their teeth at some time in their lives, and for some individuals, it becomes a lifelong habit. More women have the awake type of bruxism, but sleep teeth grinding affects men and women equally. In addition to the assortment of detrimental symptoms from teeth grinding, the habit can cause permanent damage to the teeth, alveolar bones, jaw joints, jawbone and dental restorations such as crowns, implants, dentures or veneers.

A Dentist Can Diagnose and Classify Your Type of Bruxism

If your dentist tells you that grinding your teeth is leading to problems such as decay or gingivitis, then it is imperative to find a way to overcome the bad habit, or alternatively, you must find a way to protect your teeth and other facial components. During sleep studies, researchers have measured how test subjects grind their teeth to understand the dangerous bite force that occurs along with how long or often people are engaging in bruxism. Teeth grinding is diagnosed and classified by your dentist so that you can provide information to your dental insurance provider to plan the best treatment for the condition.

What Type of Management or Treatment Is There for Bruxism?

There are several types of treatment for this condition, and you will probably need to experiment with different methods to find what works for you to protect your teeth along with reducing your pain. A dentist will begin by repairing damaged teeth, and you may need new dental restorations that are made from durable materials. Plastic formfitting dental guards or occlusal splints are the most popular way to protect your teeth, especially during the night while you are sleeping. These devices are similar to the mouth guards worn while playing sports or the aligners that are worn to straighten teeth that have misalignments. The difference is that the items are made to last longer to provide long-term protection for your teeth. An additional type of treatment is relaxing the jaw muscles with special exercises, medications or Botox injections. You may also benefit from biofeedback training with devices that help you to become aware that you are grinding your teeth while you are sleeping.