Teeth grinding, the medical term “Bruxism”, is the process of grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw due to stress and anxiety. Often, at times it ends up becoming a habit, and further, a problem. Teeth grinding may be developed at any age and happens subconsciously during times of increased stress or while asleep. It is essential to seek intervention before it causes severe damage to the teeth and other facial muscles.
What causes Teeth Grinding?
Usually, as aforementioned, teeth grinding is caused by stress or anxiety. It can also be caused by crooked or missing teeth and even due to sleep disorders like snoring, sleep talking, sleep paralysis etc. Other causative agents include certain medications, alcohol, smoking, increased consumption of tea/coffee.
Teeth grinding is also seen in around 15%-33% of children especially on arrival of baby teeth or adult teeth. This usually stops after full growth of adult teeth, but it is recommended to get an expert opinion. In children teeth grinding may occur due to allergies or infections and even nutritional deficiencies.
Teeth grinding is usually exhibited while a person is asleep. The following symptoms are indicators of teeth grinding:
- Headaches and earaches
- Pain in the jaw
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Facial pain
- Disrupted sleep
- Sensitive and worn-out teeth
- Broken teeth
- Muscle tension
- Swollen facial muscles
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
- Fracturing of teeth
- Loss of teeth
It’s also crucial to get a dentist’s opinion on whether your Bruxism is severe and find out how you can treat it. If your bruxism is caused by stress or anxiety, it’s a good idea to get the opinion of a general practitioner as well.
Why Teeth Grinding is Harmful
Teeth grinding can cause increased tooth damage and may also lead to the loss of teeth. Chronic grinding wears the tooth down and results in increased facial pain and infections. New bridges, crowns, implants and even dentures may be required to battle the harm caused to the teeth due to grinding.
How to Stop Teeth Grinding
In some cases teeth grinding may require no treatment at all. But when it is severe and chronic, it is absolutely crucial to visit a dentist. Specialised treatment plans provided by a dental expert are the best ways to tackle grinding of the teeth. Occlusal Appliances are generally prescribed to protect the teeth from grinding while asleep. These include night guards, bite plates, bite guards, occlusal splints and bruxism appliances.
If stress and anxiety are the main triggers, meditation, hypnosis, counselling, muscle relaxants, relaxation techniques and therapeutic analysis are also suggested.
Other methods to control teeth grinding include:
- Avoiding or cutting back on consumption of chocolates, caffeine and colas
- Alcohol consumption intensifies teeth grinding. Avoiding alcohol also helps stopping teeth grinding
- Avoid chewing on objects like pencils or toothpicks and other non-consumable items
- Avoid or cut back on smoking
- Practice tongue positions that prevent grinding of teeth
- Find ways to relax your jaw muscles
- Try massaging and stretching exercises for facial muscles
- Dehydration may even be linked to grinding of teeth so it’s also recommended to stay hydrated