Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common habit that gradually leads to teeth becoming worn down, flattened, chipped, cracked – and even broken.
Busy professionals with stressful working conditions may find themselves regularly unclenching their jaw, unaware that they had been clenching to begin with. People may wake up after a night’s sleeping with pain in their teeth, jaw, or temple. Others may grind their teeth simply as a nervous habit.
Whatever the cause, teeth grinding can become a major issue and deeply impact your oral health if not treated.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
The two most common causes of teeth grinding are stress, and an unconscious habit during sleep.
Clenching and grinding the jaw is a common response to stressful situations. Even when not stressed, intense concentration and focus can lead people to unconsciously clench and grind. This is why people who work intense or stressful jobs are particularly susceptible to bruxism.
Whether awake or asleep, grinding is typically an unconscious behaviour that people don’t realise until afterwards, if at all.
It’s also possible to grind your teeth due to the placement of your teeth when your mouth is closed, known as your “bite”. If teeth are misaligned or crowded, it can result in teeth grinding together particularly during sleep.
Diagnosing Teeth Grinding
Even if you remain blissfully unaware of your grinding, your dentist will be able to spot telltale signs on your teeth during an examination. These signs will be noticeable in the shape and texture of your teeth, particularly your molars. The cusps of your teeth – the raised ridges on molars and premolars – will gradually become worn down as well.
Treating Teeth Grinding
There are many ways to treat teeth grinding, depending on the underlying cause.
If there’s a problem with your bite, your dentist may offer ways to correct it, such as orthodontics.
Mouth guards and splints are common appliances used to stop grinding. These are typically worn at night while you sleep. The goal is to keep your teeth locked into position so they can’t move and grind.
Splints are also used for “bio feedback”. The natural chewing process is to bite down, feel pressure, and then immediately release the jaw. When we clench and grind our teeth, we do the first part, but the signal doesn’t get to the brain to let go of the pressure. When a splint is in place, the act of biting down onto it triggers the natural response to release the biting motion and relieve pressure on the teeth.
Muscle relaxant injections can also be used to treat teeth grinding. By relaxing the muscles of the jaw, you’re less likely to unconsciously clench and grind. This won’t interfere with your ability to bite and chew.
Lastly, behavioural changes such as mindfulness, meditation, and therapy can be used to help deal with and alleviate the stress that causes grinding in the first place.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, the symptoms or corrective measures, contact Platinum Dental.