Teeth Grinding: Key Things You Should Know

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While occasional clenching or grinding of the teeth in sleep or while awake can be harmless, severe clenching or grinding of the teeth is a totally different story. Medically known as bruxism, severe clenching or grinding of teeth in sleep or while awake can cause serious complications and should not be taken lightly. 

Close to 10 per cent of adults are affected by bruxism. If you suspect you have bruxism, below are some of the things you need to know:

The damage it can cause is not limited to the teeth alone

Many people only experience mild cases of bruxism. However, when it’s severe, visiting your dentist is recommended. Why? Severe cases of bruxism can do significant damage not just to the teeth but to other parts of the body as well.

Case in point: severe bruxism can also aggravate the joints found in the lower jaw (otherwise known as the TMJs or temporomandibular joints). This can result in tightness or pain in the joint area. Others also experience headaches as well as earaches.

Of course, there is no doubt bruxism is bad news for the teeth. For starters, the condition can wear down the enamel, cause increased tooth sensitivity, and may cause teeth to become chipped or broken.

Bruxism can be attributed to stress

While the condition can be attributed to several causes, many people clench and grind their teeth when they are frustrated, anxious, or tense. However, stress is just one of the many triggers that can result in bruxism.

Bruxism can also be attributed to any of the following factors: Smoking before bed, drinking caffeinated beverages, misaligned teeth, jaw muscles being pulled into an unnatural position, etc.

Bruxism can develop at any point in your life

One of the common misconceptions people have about bruxism is that only adults get them. If truth be told, children can also develop bruxism. However, most of them eventually outgrow the condition.

If anything, bruxism can affect just about anyone, regardless of gender or age. However, bruxism is observed to be more common in adults, especially those who are  more prone to stress.

You may not be aware you have the condition

Those who sleep alone may not have an idea they do grind and clench their teeth during sleep. Many red flags can occur that will tell people if they have bruxism. For instance, many will notice damage to their teeth.

Others, on the other hand, will experience other symptoms that often clearly point to bruxism. Some of the common symptoms that indicate bruxism include earaches, headaches, and unexplained facial pain. 

Some people will also experience tenderness around the jaw.Those who have bed partners are most likely to disturb them during the night with their teeth grinding. Some people also notice limited jaw movement, worn or damaged teeth, restlessness, sore gums, and inability to concentrate.

There are different options to minimise the symptoms and damage

Here’s the good news: in mild cases, the condition can go away even without any treatment. If the condition develops in children, many will eventually outgrow them. In severe cases however, the intervention of your dentist will be needed.

One remedy that’s commonly recommended is the use of mouth guards. Your dentist often creates a bespoke one. It is fitted over the teeth and has been known to effectively minimise the damage brought about by excessive grinding especially during sleep. 

In other cases, lifestyle changes like eliminating caffeine or not smoking prior to sleeping has been known to help. Daytime bruxism is way easier to manage because many people are aware they are doing it. If the condition is attributed to stress, doing yoga or listening to relaxing might be recommended. 

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