Teeth grinding or bruxism is the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth together involuntarily, usually while you are asleep. While teeth grinding can affect lots of people at different stages of their life, ongoing bruxism can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. At Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic we offer a variety of treatment options to help our patients manage the effects of teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding is common – so common in fact that as many as 50% of the population will do it. But only about 5% of the population are what is called forceful grinders. In the majority of cases, it happens when the person is asleep but some people also do it when they are awake. It is important to manage it appropriately to ensure the habit does not cause long term damage.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
A number of different factors may cause you to grind your teeth. These may include
- External factors – like drugs, medications, alcohol, smoking, and caffeine
- Medical conditions – Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, depression and epilepsy may result in bruxism. Patients who suffer from chronic pain conditions like TMD, fibromyalgia and neuralgias are more susceptible to grinding
- Sleep disorders – such as insomnia, sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome can cause you to grind your teeth in your sleep.
- Biological factors – genetics plays a role too. Sometimes patient whose teeth do not meet completely on closing the jaw experience teeth grinding.
- Psychological and behavioural factors – personality traits or habits can cause tension and clenching in the jaw.
It is also quite common for children to grind their teeth during different stages of their development. Fortunately, because children’s teeth and jaws are changing all the time, the effects are generally not damaging by the time the child has outgrown it.
It is important to know what causes teeth grinding, to be able to adopt an effective treatment plan. If you cannot determine the cause behind your teeth grinding, you may not be able to treat it effectively.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Teeth Grinding?
Because teeth grinding usually happens when you are asleep you may not even be aware that you are doing it. There are some signs that may present if your bed partner doesn’t bring it to your attention:
- Sore or aching teeth, especially after you wake up
- A headache, ear pain or jaw joint pain
- Stiffness or soreness in the temples and face after waking
- A habit of clenching the jaw when you feel anxious or angry
- Chipped or cracked teeth enamel
- Sore jaws when chewing food
- Loosened teeth
- Bitten tissue on the inside of your cheeks
Why It Is Important To Manage Teeth Grinding
Dental enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and it performs the important task of protecting your teeth. When you grind your teeth against each other constantly you can crack and chip your tooth enamel. Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime, so unnecessary wear and tear may shorten their lifespan.
Constant grinding can actually break your teeth and damage restorations like fillings. It also causes tired, strained and sore jaw muscles and jaw joints. Over time this can also result in limited movement in the jaw.
What Treatment Options Are Available For Teeth Grinding?
There are a number of different treatment approaches available, and very often treatment involves the use of more than one type. Understanding the cause of your teeth grinding can help your practitioner create a more effective treatment plan.
Wearing a mouth guard
Mouth guards are effective barriers that can be worn while you sleep. It won’t stop you from grinding your teeth but it will ensure that the mouth guard takes the wear and tear, rather than your teeth.
Repairing any damage
Your dentist will evaluate what damage has been done to your teeth because of teeth grinding and assist you with the necessary restorations. You may need to consider dental treatments such as veneers, crowns or dental implants in cases where your teeth have been worn down significantly.
Using a mandibular advancement splint
In the event that your teeth grinding is linked to sleep apnoea, you may benefit from a mandibular advancement splint (MAS). MAS therapy forces the airway to open, to manage sleep apnoeic episodes, and assist in snoring management.
In addition, your practitioner may introduce other treatments to help stop you grinding your teeth. These may include
- Stress management techniques
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Relaxation techniques
- Muscle relaxing medication
In addition to the treatments we can offer at Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic, you may find it beneficial to review your lifestyle, giving attention to healthy nutrition, regular exercise and a more defined sleeping cycle. Our friendly team will discuss all options and opportunities with you.
Teeth grinding can be managed with the appropriate treatment. Please contact us for an appointment: