Teeth Grinding in Melbourne – We Have A Solution
Do you suffer from teeth grinding or clenching? Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic can help. Teeth grinding (or bruxism as it is medically known) especially during sleep is a common problem. Not only does it damage the teeth, but it can cause several other dental problems too.
Teeth Grinding & Clenching (Bruxism)
Bruxism occurs when a person rubs their upper and lower teeth together without chewing. The teeth rub or grind as the jaw moves forcefully back and forth or side to side. Often, a person is unaware that they are doing this until their sleep partner hears the noise they are making.
Teeth clenching happens when a person puts their teeth together and clenches the muscles for a sustained period of time, without moving their teeth,
It’s not uncommon for people to grind and clench their teeth during the day and night (approximately 50% of the population do so, from time to time), but when it is related to a sleeping disorder such as sleep apnoea, it is much harder to control.
When we chew normally, we exert a controlled force of approximately 10-15 kg. When we clench or grind our teeth, our muscles are using uncontrolled forces which can go up to 100 kg or more! Some people have been known to grind their teeth so hard they are reduced to nubs, and eventually they need to have restorative surgery.
Bruxism or teeth grinding is one of the most common sleep disorders and is often associated with snoring, and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Bruxism is in effect an involuntary jaw movement and can also be a cause, and a symptom of jaw pain, known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD).
Causes of Bruxism
No-one knows for certain what causes bruxism, but several factors may be involved. Clenching and grinding can often happen at stressful times, for instance, such as when a person is feeling anxious or angry or is deep in concentration. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) also classified sleep bruxism as a medical “sleep related movement disorder” in 2005. The latest research shows that when people grind in their sleep, the brain “wakes up” and activates the sympathetic nervous system (or the “fight/flight nervous system”) in our brain. Triggering this “fight/flight” response while we should be peacefully asleep is not normal, and hence, causes us to clench and grind our teeth. In essence, anything that triggers a “stress” to our brain will activate this “fight/flight” response in our sleep.
Bruxism can also be related to an abnormal bite which means the teeth do not meet properly when the jaw is closed. When this happens it is called an occlusal discrepancy.
Having teeth that are crooked or missing, or tooth fillings that are too high can also cause the teeth to grind.
Medical Side Effect
Bruxism can also be a side effect of certain medications such as antidepressants, recreational drugs such as cocaine, or certain illnesses including epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, and depression.
Certain Sleep Disorders
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome are also known to trigger bruxism.
Chronic Pain Conditions
Any pain or injury in the body can trigger the brain to reflexively clench and grind the teeth. People with chronic pain conditions (e.g. fibromyalgia, TMD, neuralgias) are more prone to bruxism.
Signs and Symptoms
If you suspect you may be suffering from teeth grinding, Melbourne residents should look for one or more of the following signs and symptoms. They include:
- Difficulty or discomfort when chewing
- Cracked or chipped tooth enamel or broken dental fillings
- Pain in the jaw (temporomandibular joint (TMJ), face, neck, or shoulders
- Aching or stiffness of the face especially upon waking up
- Difficulty in hearing, ear pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Painful clicking, grating, or popping sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing your mouth
- Jaws which are stiff or get stuck or locked
If you’re suffering from bruxism, then understandably you want to know what your bruxism treatment in Melbourne options are. This really depends on the cause of your bruxism. At Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic, rather than short term “band-aid” approaches, (such as muscle relaxants or botox injections), we focus on finding the true cause of your bruxism and targeting treatment towards it. While there is no real cure for teeth grinding or teeth clenching, there are options available to relieve the symptoms and deal with the underlying cause.
One of those is to deal with the psychological aspects through:
Speaking with a counsellor can help you find ways to lower your stress levels, which in turn may stop you grinding your teeth. Emotional stress from anxiety, anger, and depression, can cause people to grind their teeth during the day or night. Often, simply talking things through can have a positive effect.
Muscle relaxation techniques, deep breathing, yoga, and exercise can also help a person cope better with stress.
Better Sleeping Habits
Avoid drinks containing caffeine for several hours before going to bed; try taking a warm bath to relax you before bed, keep all phones, computers, and tablets out of the bedroom.
It’s worth noting that daytime grinding and clenching may improve with physical therapy, exercises, and increased awareness, but nocturnal bruxism needs alternative strategies as it is out of the control of the individual.
Muscle relaxation techniques
Deep breathing, yoga, and exercise can also help a person cope better with stress.
The other option is to deal with the physical aspects through:
Restorative Treatment for Damaged Teeth
Including dental crowns, veneers, or dental implants in the case where teeth are badly worn down
Short Term Medication such as Muscle Relaxants or Supplements (e.g. Magnesium)
This can be used to temporarily relieve any muscular pain from teeth grinding or TMJ.
Medical treatment for any condition linked to bruxism such as snoring, sleep apnoea and TMD
A custom-made mouthguard or occlusal splint to protect your teeth. This is worn over your teeth at night – like a mouthguard to protect them.
Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS)
Snoring and sleep apnoea are linked with bruxism. When the airway collapses, the brain panics and prompts the bottom jaw to move to open up the airway so you can breathe. In doing so, this protective jaw movement causes you to clench and grind your teeth. MAS therapy will not only provide the protective functions of an occlusal splint, it will also open up your airway and manage your snoring and sleep apnoea.
Our experienced team at Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic will discuss your best options based on the severity of your condition and on the underlying cause of your bruxism.
Often we may recommend more than one approach.
If you’re concerned about teeth grinding, call Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic today to book a consultation. We’re highly experienced in treating bruxism and other related sleep disorders and aim at all times to help our patients maximise their overall health and not just their dental health.