Teeth grinding or bruxism occurs when you clench your jaws. It is usually done unconsciously during sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake.
Occasional teeth grinding does not usually cause harm to our oral health, but if left untreated it may quickly turn into a regular habit that may result in a few oral health complications.
What are the symptoms?
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, there are some few major symptoms you can be on the lookout for and they include facial pain and morning headaches. You might also experience minor earaches and jaw pain that can lead to a temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Another symptom includes tooth sensitivity, fractured teeth and fillings plus gum inflammation.
All these can lead to tooth loss and that’s why bruxism is a much complex subject than people realize. You should see your dentist as soon as you notice any of these signs. He or she will conduct an oral exam and guide you through any extensive dental treatment you might need.
What causes teeth grinding?
It is not always clear what causes bruxism but it has been linked to stress and anxiety in many patients. Bruxism can also develop from an abnormal bite. When teeth rest against each other abnormally, they tend to cause a crossbite or an overbite. This can cause a lot of discomfort in the mouth that may later lead to teeth grinding. If you snore or have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, you are also more likely to develop bruxism. Other factors that can make you more likely to grind your teeth include drinking alcohol and smoking.
What are the treatments?
There are several treatments available for teeth grinding. They include using a mouth guard, practising stress-reducing techniques and obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants.
If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it early is bound to eliminate the habit. Other tips that can help you include cutting back on foods that contain caffeine and avoiding alcohol. You should also resist chewing on pencils and pens and chewing gum.
Last but not least, you can simply train yourself not to clench your jaw by positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Do this and you will see some drastic changes very soon.