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Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism

What is bruxism? Don’t you wish dentists would just say ‘grinding your teeth?’ Then we would know what it is right away and what to look for when we are searching for information on it.

During the day, you may clench your teeth or you may grind your teeth when you are sleeping. Both of these are a form of bruxism and if you grind your teeth in your sleep you may not even be aware you have it until you start suffering some of the symptoms. Some forms of teeth grinding are mild and don’t need treatment but if it is severe, it can lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.

It is very important to recognize the symptoms of bruxism so you can get help before it causes severe damage so listed below are some of the things to watch for:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching that is unconscious or during the night that a partner may notice
  • Flattened, fractured or chipped teeth
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Jaw muscle contractions
  • Jaw pain or tightness in the muscles
  • Inflamed or enlarged jaw muscles
  • Broken fillings
  • Increase in tooth sensitivity
  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Chronic facial pain
  • Chewed or damaged tissue on the inside of your cheek
  • Indentations on your tongue
  • Ringing in your ears

Some of the symptoms of bruxism listed above may have other causes and,
although the causes of teeth grinding are not completely understood by doctors, some of the possible causes are as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Tension
  • Suppressed anger or frustration
  • Personality type that is aggressive, controlling, precise, nervous or competitive
  • People who have a time urgency and achievement compulsion
  • Teeth not aligned properly
  • Disease such as arthritis
  • Missing teeth
  • Age, especially in young children
  • Changes during the sleep cycle
  • Responses to pain from an earache or teething in children
  • Growth and development of the jaw and teeth in children
  • Complications from a disorder such as Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease
  • Rare side effect from some psychiatric medications which include antidepressants

When you go for a regular dental visit, your dentist will check for physical signs of bruxism and if any are found, he/she will try to determine why you are grinding your teeth by asking about some of the following:

  • General dental health
  • Daily medications
  • Routine drinking of alcohol or caffeinated beverages
  • Sleep habits
  • Stress levels

If your dentist thinks your bruxism is due to psychological reasons or stress levels, he/she may refer you to a therapist, counselor or sleep specialist. Don’t be upset by this as it is important to find the underlying cause of your teeth grinding so that you can obtain the proper treatment plan to stop it.

Following are some self-help ideas to treat your bruxism:

  • Cut out caffeine &  alcohol
  • Don’t chew on non-food items
  • Stop chewing gum, ice and fingernails
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Try a soft diet for a while
  • Do some mouth exercises
  • Be aware of when you are grinding your teeth and relax

Your dentist may also advise a night guard to stop the grinding. This is done in two appointments …the first to take the impression and the second to fit it. It fits over your teeth at night to stop grinding and must be worn every night to be effective.

For more information on bruxism or to find out if you have it, call our number at 1-877-283-0497 to book your free, no obligation consultation at your convenience

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