For many, teeth grinding and jaw clenching are more than a discomfort and are actually a common condition called bruxism. If you’re one of these sufferers, you need to treat this harmful habit before it leads to more pain and problems.
Causes of Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Bruxism can occur during the day or at night, and often happens without the sufferer even realizing it. While the disorder affects both children and adults, it is seen most frequently in children and its likelihood decreases with age. While minor teeth clenching can do no harm, severe cases can cause significant distress and discomfort. The precise cause of teeth grinding is not known, but it is typically attributed to one or more of these factors:
- Jaw disorders
- Crooked or missing teeth
- Stress or anxiety
- Sleep apnea
- Some kinds of medications
Teeth grinding typically causes visible wear and erosion of the teeth, which a dentist can easily detect with a dental examination. The impact of teeth clenching is often felt rather than seen, with the habit causing severe facial soreness, jaw pain, jaw joint damage, headaches, and earaches. These signs tend to appear in both daytime and sleep conditions, but people suffering from sleep bruxism frequently wake up with unexplained headaches and tooth sensitivity.
Effects of Bruxism
- Painful and tender jaw muscles
- Jaw joint disordes
- Cracked teeth and broken fillings
- Worn and sensitive teeth
- Increased levels of gum damage
Treating Teeth Grinding
Bruxism that happens during the day is generally treated with behaviour modification techniques, awareness reminders, and possibly short-term splint therapy. More-complex cases may require psychological counseling or medication for stress and anxiety. Treatment for sleep bruxism often includes wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent teeth grinding, as well as medications such as antidepressants and muscle relaxants. In time, these treatments should provide relief from the burden of bruxism.