The Nightmare of Teeth Grinding
The sickening sound, the unsightly appearance, and the damage it causes to your poor teeth, with all that, teeth grinding is nothing less than a nightmare. It not only ruins your sweet night’s sleep but also puts your overall oral health at risk. Yet, with all these unpleasant features, it is surprisingly a very common condition that affects about 5% of the population. Are you one of these regular teeth grinders, in dream of a peaceful night’s sleep? So, this article is for you.
What is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, happens when you grind, clench, or gnash your teeth, causing them to gradually wear off, become sensitive, or even break. Bruxism is generally divided into two different types:
- Sleep Bruxism: Teeth grinding could be an unconscious behavior that happens when you are asleep. This form of teeth grinding is called sleep bruxism. As it happens at night, you may not notice it at first, and a friend or your partner might bring it to your attention.
- Awake Bruxism: Teeth grinding could also be something you are totally aware of from the very beginning, happening in the middle of the day. This type of teeth grinding is known as awake bruxism.
Whether you do it consciously or without knowing, the negative effects of teeth grinding, especially the second type, greatly reduce your confidence and quality of life. Therefore, you should keep watch of its underlying reasons, signs, and symptoms to deal with it as soon as you can.
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Why Do We Grind Our Teeth?
There are many different reasons behind teeth grinding. From physical causes to underlying mental or psychological issues and even genetics, this condition could begin with less tangible signs and gradually lead to more severe symptoms, endangering your health.
- Stress & Anxiety
This psychological factor is somewhat the most common reason for teeth grinding and, interestingly, the easiest to address. By simply practicing relaxation methods or consulting your therapist about your situation, you can relieve the symptoms of teeth grinding. Also, everyday calming activities like breathing deeply, listening to music, and taking a walk could reduce your anxiety.
- Sleep Disorders
Bruxism could also be caused by different forms of sleep disorders like snoring, talking during sleep, and especially obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This latter form of sleep disorder is almost always accompanied by teeth grinding. Obstructive sleep apnea tightens the airways, making your body struggle for more air and, therefore, grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. These sleep-related issues need special care and should be discussed with a specialist.
- Orthodontic Issues
Malocclusions like crowded teeth, overbite, and underbite can also be a cause for teeth grinding. These orthodontic problems result in a poorly adjusted bite and have to be dealt with by a professional orthodontist and, in severe cases, by an oral surgeon. Depending on your situation, these specialists may suggest dental braces, Invisalign, or oral surgery.
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You may be born with a potential for teeth grinding or inherit it from your parents. One of the instances of such genetic issues could be when you are born with airways that are tighter than normal. This condition does not only lead to teeth grinding but, prior to that, causes many sleep problems.
- Smoking, Drug Abuse & Special Medications
If you are a regular smoker, addicted to drugs, or consume large amounts of alcohol, you might be more susceptible to teeth grinding. Also, another risk factor for bruxism could be the special medicines you take for your other health issues. So, always remember to discuss your medical history with your dentist before starting your treatment.
The Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding covers a wide range of symptoms that affect different parts of the body, from your ears and head to your neck and shoulders and definitely your teeth. Teeth grinding can disrupt your normal activities and cause extensive damage to your teeth, so you should always be aware of its signs and symptoms to take quick action to resolve the issue and maintain your oral health.
- Tooth pain and sensitivity
- Pain in jaw that may also extend to your face, neck, and shoulders
- Worn-down, fractured, or broken teeth
- Sleep problems
- Chronic headache
- Pain and ringing in your ears
If you come across one or a combination of these problems, you might be suffering from bruxism. Therefore, you need to schedule an appointment to consult with a dentist before matters get out of hand and grinding causes irreversible damage to your teeth.
Treatment Options for Teeth Grinding
As diverse as the causes are, the treatment options for teeth grinding. Depending on the reason for your bruxism and the severity of the effects, your dentist may suggest a number of treatment options:
- Night Guards
These are custom-made protective shields that you are recommended to wear during sleep to prevent the erosion of your tooth enamel and relieve jaw pain, headache, and other symptoms associated with bruxism. Night guards also go by many other names, like mouth guards, bite splints, and dental guards. These palates are made after the dentist takes an impression from your teeth, sends it to the lab and finally makes final adjustments for them to fit perfectly. So, for this treatment, only two dental visits are enough for you to reach your desired results.
- Botox Injection
Botulinum toxin, a substance famous for its cosmetic usage, can also serve as an effective, yet temporary, solution for teeth grinding. Using this method, the dentist will inject a specific dose of Botox into your facial masseter muscles, which are responsible for chewing, opening, and closing your mouth. These injections help relax tension in these muscles by temporarily paralyzing them and help alleviate symptoms of teeth grinding. However, keep in mind that these effects are not permanent, and you have to repeat your therapeutic sessions.
- Massage Therapy
Professional massage on facial muscles, your jaw, neck, and shoulders can be a minimally invasive treatment option. During this relaxing treatment, the massage therapist applies manual pressure and performs kneading techniques on the affected areas to release tension, promote relaxation, and reduce the likelihood of clenching or grinding of the teeth. This form of treatment also requires dedication and persistence, as you need to go through several sessions to see tangible results.
- Stress Management Therapy
If the main cause of your teeth grinding is anxiety, you might need to seek help from a psychologist or therapist. They will give you instructions on how to manage your stress and practice relaxation techniques. Though this treatment targets the more fundamental reasons for your teeth grinding, it might not be as evidently effective as other procedures. That is why it is advisable to combine it with other treatment options like mouthguards.
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Who Is More Susceptible? Children, Teenagers, or Adults?
Teeth grinding, or bruxism can affect everyone, regardless of their age. Still, its prevalence and causes may vary among different age groups.
Bruxism is relatively common in children, particularly during the early years when teeth are emerging. It often occurs during sleep and is usually outgrown by adolescence. Stress, misaligned teeth, or other factors may contribute to bruxism in children. Monitoring their behavior and consulting with a pediatric dentist can help address your concerns and relieve the symptoms in your beloved children.
Bruxism can persist into the teenage years, and the stress related to academic pressure, social atmosphere, or changes in their routine may lead to teeth grinding. Adolescents may also experience bruxism as a result of orthodontic issues or misaligned teeth. Remember that regular dental check-ups can help identify and address bruxism in teenagers in its very early stages.
Bruxism is prevalent among adults, too, and it can be associated with various factors. Stress and anxiety are common contributors in adults, but other causes may include malocclusion (misaligned teeth), lifestyle factors like smoking and drinking, and certain medical conditions.
Finally, it is important to note that teeth grinding may not always come with obvious symptoms, and you may be unaware of the habit until it is too late to save your teeth. However, dentists can easily diagnose bruxism during your routine dental examinations by observing dental wear patterns and checking for signs of jaw muscle discomfort. So, seeking professional assistance is crucial for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment. Our team of dental experts at U Smile Dentistry provides the most comprehensive and highest-quality dental care in Orangeville and the surrounding area. We are firm believers in patient satisfaction and prioritize your needs, concerns, and expectations.
Are you worried if you are unconsciously grinding and damaging your teeth? We can simply give you the answer in a single visit. Call us now to book your appointment or fill out our online form for our team to reach out to you as soon as possible. Get in touch with us through a phone call at (647) 492-9149.
We look forward to meeting and helping you smile wide and bright.
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