What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Doctors and dentists classify grinders or bruxers as they’re informally known, into two categories: daytime grinders and nighttime grinders. And, it’s actually quite normal to go through stages when you clench your jaw too tightly or grind your teeth during dreams. But, if you can’t stop grinding, you can do a lot of harm to your jaw and teeth over the long term.
In some patients teeth grinding may be caused by a combination of factors, while in others the causes are more obvious. Some known causes of bruxism include
- Genetics (or biological causes)
- Stress and emotional triggers or personality traits (psychological causes)
- Stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and certain drugs and medication. Interestingly, dehydration is a state that has been observed to trigger grinding in some patients.
A very common association with grinding is sleep apnoea, which is typified by snoring and blocked airways.
We find that sufferers of sleep apnoea tend to snore and grind their teeth in their sleep and that often, by treating the sleep apnoea, grinding and snoring can also be resolved.
The Effects Of Teeth Grinding
Most people seek help to stop grinding because of the impact it is having on their body or on their relationship with a bed partner. Over the long term, the force of teeth grinding can cause cracks, fractures and weaken your tooth enamel. In severe or prolonged cases it can also cause the teeth to be loosened.
Signs And Symptoms Of Teeth Grinding
It’s only when patients experience painful or debilitating symptoms and go for treatment that they discover they have bruxism.
- Jaw pain and tension (especially on waking)
- Wear and tear on the teeth or to the enamel (which may be detected by your dentist first)
- Headaches or shoulder tension upon waking
- Development of tori mandibularis, small bone-like growths that emerge around the teeth in the lower jaw
What Teeth Grinding Solutions Are Available To Help You?
Our approach to teeth grinding solutions is to identify the root cause behind it, and to provide support to help our patients. Sometimes it isn’t possible for patients to stop grinding if we can’t identify the cause. For some patients, treatment is supportive.
Stress Management And Lifestyle Modifications
Many people carry a great deal of anxiety around with them and they do not know how to deal with it. In fact, many of those people take the stress and anxiety to bed with them at night, and it doesn’t just go away on its own. We have had great success with patients by teaching them stress management techniques and provide counselling support to help them manage their negative emotions.
Lots of people do not have a bedtime routine either. They may spend all their waking hours until bedtime on a screen, and do not know how to decompress before bedtime. Often relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are helpful for patients who just can’t unwind at the end of a day. Some patients may need to stop drinking caffeinated beverages past a certain time in the day or stop drinking alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Some patients need to change their medications if those are contributing to bruxism at night.
Dentistry isn’t a solution but it is a necessary treatment for patients who have been grinding their teeth for a long time. The long term effects of grinding can wreak havoc on your teeth and you may need some cosmetic or restorative dentistry to be carried out to improve the condition of your teeth. Get more information.
Sometimes patients need to consider veneers, crowns or even dental implants when they have been grinding for a long time but, as you can see, these solutions are not helpful if the patient continues to grind, because they will just damage their teeth again. Learn more about dental implants as a restorative solution when you visit this link.
Medical Devices And Support For Sleep Apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a condition whereby the sufferer stops breathing during sleep and wakes up multiple times in a night without noticing it. An occlusal splint or custom-built mouthguard, which is indicated for obstructive sleep apnoea can be helpful to grinders who suffer from this condition. While it doesn’t address the root of the problem it can prevent damage to the teeth from recurring, as well as the strain on the jaw and jaw muscles.
Mouthguards for sleep apnoea are usually built from a special type of plastic and worn at night, as a buffer between the jaws. A mandibular advancement splint is another option that can help to keep the airways open. It changes the position of the lower jaw in order to keep your mouth open and, in so doing, makes it impossible for your teeth to grind against each other.
We have experience in offering patients a multi-faceted approach to teeth grinding solutions. To find out more, or to book an appointment, please contact us: