Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a condition which affects around 5% of Australian adults. In most cases people are unaware that they grind their teeth, as it is an action which occurs subconsciously when under significant stress and mostly during sleep. The habit can lead to excessive wear and tear on the teeth, causing them to become worn down and increasing the risk of chipping and cracking. The constant clenching of the jaw can also cause headaches and pain, which can impact on daily life and sleep quality. It is important to seek treatment early, as left untreated bruxism can negatively affect your oral and overall health.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
Stress is a major cause of teeth grinding. Some might experience this during sleep while others may manifest as clenching during the day time.
People of all ages can experience it. Clenching and grinding of the teeth/jaw is a typical response to stress, and those who work long hours in stressful roles is particularly prone to experiencing this.
It is normal for the upper and lower teeth to meet with one another during activities such as eating and speaking. However, continual clenching and grinding will significantly increase wear and tear, resulting in loss of enamel and increasing the risk of serious dental complications.
Complications Arising from Teeth Grinding
Those with a habit of teeth grinding may experience:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Cracked and worn teeth
- Sleep disruption
- Facial Pain
- Jaw stiffness
Diagnosis and Treatment of Teeth Grinding
It is not uncommon for patients to be unaware of any issue. Typically, a significant other or your dentist will alert you to the issue. Dentists can immediately identify the signs of teeth grinding during a routine check-up, as the teeth will exhibit clear shape and textural changes. This is usually most evident on the molars, with the cusps of the teeth wearing down rapidly.
If you suspect you may have an issue with tooth grinding, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Depending on the underlying cause, you may be a candidate for orthodontic or other types of treatment which can help to prevent further damage to your teeth.
Some common treatment options for bruxism include:
- Mouthguard (occlusal splint) – a custom mouthguard can be created by your dentist, offering protection to the teeth and reducing jaw strain. This should be worn at night during sleep.
- Muscle Relaxant Injections – can help to relax jaw muscles, making you less inclined to unconsciously clench and grind.
- Stress management therapy – with stress being a major factor in teeth grinding, it is important to seek ways of managing stress. This could include activities such as meditation and mindfulness.
- Dental correction. In severe cases — when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly — your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns to repair the damage.
- Treatment of Sleep-related disorders. Addressing sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea may improve sleep bruxism.
If you suspect you may have an issue with teeth grinding, please don’t hesitate to book an appointment at Glowing Smiles Dental today. We look forward to seeing you at our Narre Warren or Doncaster East dental clinic soon.