Say what? Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. It can occur while awake or while asleep (known as sleep Bruxism). Startlingly, research has shown that some 85-90% of people will grind their teeth at some point during their lives, though it is believed that in only about 5% of people will this grinding develop into a problem that will need attention from a dentist.

What is the cause of teeth grinding?

The exact cause of grinding, gnashing, and clenching of the teeth is not clear. Bruxism is believed to be primarily a neurologic issue, which is influenced by stress and anxiety; however, misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite may contribute to it as well.

What are the symptoms of Bruxism?

Since many patients clench or grind their teeth while sleeping, they are completely unaware of doing so. However, these patients may wake up with a headache, sore jaw, or tender jaw muscles. For many, only the fact that their partner has heard them grinding their teeth while sleeping has lead them to discover their Bruxism.

Can teeth grinding damage your teeth?

Yes, it can. Persistent grinding of your teeth can, over time, destroy the protective enamel coating of your teeth, making them vulnerable to tooth decay, cracking, and breaking. When combined with the popular high-sugar, high-acid diet many patients eat today, bruxism can contribute to dental erosion and increased tooth wear.

Severe cases of Bruxism may lead to tooth loss or problems with your jaw, such as Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ).

What is the best treatment for Bruxism?

Generally, the most common treatment for teeth grinding is the fitting of a mouth guard by your dentist. These may also be known as a “tooth guard” or “mouth piece,” much like those worn by athletes playing contact sports. The mouth guard is to be worn during sleep, to help protect your
teeth and possibly disrupt the habit of grinding.

Self-treatment tips for Bruxism

Here are a few things you can do to help yourself stop the grinding or clenching of your teeth:

  • Relax – since gnashing and clenching of the teeth is related to stress and anxiety, employ some relaxation techniques when you feel yourself doing this, such as deep breathing or meditation.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake – since caffeinated drinks tend to be either high in acid (coffee and tea) or high in sugar (sodas and energy drinks).
  • Avoid alcohol – which can lead to increased tooth grinding.
  • Massage your jaw muscles when you feel them tighten from clenching
  • Consciously avoid clenching your teeth while awake

For patients with persistent Bruxism, a visit to your dentist is critical to determine if you have done serious damage to your teeth. The doctors at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems. If you would like more information from your Littleton Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.

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