TEETH GRINDING AND ITS EFFECTS
There are many reasons why people grind their teeth, many of which have been mentioned in previous blog posts on this website. Commonly self-diagnosed by our patients as the result of stress or too much caffeine, teeth grinding (Bruxism) is often the result of crooked or missing teeth, an abnormal bite, or sleep apnea. Since Bruxism usually happens when you are asleep, it makes sense that people need clarification about this damaging habit.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching. This (usually night-time) habit affects almost 10% of the population, with most patients experiencing some form of nocturnal grinding when they are between the ages of 25 – 44. Although anxiety, caffeine, and sugar are often contributing factors for the condition, your oral health does play a significant role in the activity. Some dental issues that can contribute to Bruxism are: crooked or missing teeth, an abnormal bite, jaw misalignment, and general periodontal disease.
What happens when you grind your teeth?
Since Bruxism typically occurs when you sleep, detection is often a challenge for anyone other than your dentist . If you are frequently waking up in the morning with a headache or jaw pain , you should consult with your dentist as soon as possible. If the habit persists, chronic teeth grinding can result in: fracturing, loosening or loss of teeth, headaches, jaw pain, inflammation around the gum line, as well as other sleep conditions that can contribute to insomnia, depression, and other general health concerns.
How is Bruxism treated?
According to the Bruxism Association, there is no direct “cure” for nocturnal grinding, however it is treatable through the intervention of your dentist. If your doctor finds that you are grinding your teeth, the first suggestion they may make is for you to begin using an Occlusal Splint.
Occlusal Splints go by many names (bruxism appliance, bite plate, night guard, etc.) and they vary greatly in appearance. In essence, splints are a mouth guard that you wear while you sleep in order to prevent jaw and/or teeth movement through the night. Another option for Bruxism patients is a MAD (Mandibular Advancement Device).
Also worn while you sleep, MAD’s are generally used in the treatment of snoring or sleep apnea. Researchers have recently concluded that can also be used in the case of teeth grinding. However, the efficacy of using a MAD to treat Bruxism is still being researched and many test subjects have reported mixed reviews of the technique.
Neither sleep disorders nor oral health issues are something to take lightly. Given time, these conditions can destroy your jaw, mouth, and cause a dizzying array of general health conditions and even serious psychological illnesses. If you believe that you are suffering from teeth grinding, Bruxism, or jaw clenching, it is important that you consult with your dentist immediately .