Dr Andrew Campbell talks to us about ‘Tooth Grinding’ or Bruxism.
How common is tooth grinding?
Study’s have shown that up to 95% of the population can grind or clench their teeth at some point in their lives. Bruxism is the medical term given to a habitual grinding of the teeth and effects 1 in every 20 adults and approximately 30% of children.
What causes Bruxism (tooth grinding)?
Stress and anxiety are the most common causes. Other factors may be jaw misalignment, crooked or missing teeth, sinus problems, sleep disorders, or a side effect of some antidepressants. Emotional factors may also exacerbate stress and bruxing.
How do I know if I am grinding my teeth?
Approximately 20% of people who suffer from bruxism don’t even know they do it. Some clues to watch out for are:
Headaches: If you wake up with headaches or have them after a stressful day, it could be due to your facial and head muscles being fatigued from all the teeth clenching and grinding. You may also experience ear aches.
Jaw pain: When your jaw muscles are overworked, you can experience jaw pain. This can translate to the jaw joint and cause TMJ disorder (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder).
Tooth damage: Worn down or loose teeth are extremely common. Some people grind their teeth with a very high force. Over time, this force can be extremely damaging to the teeth. This wear on the enamel can also cause tooth sensitivity.
Neck and shoulder pain: Your neck and shoulder muscles will compensate for your tired jaw muscles, resulting in you waking up with neck and shoulder tension and achiness often combined with fatigue.
How is tooth grinding treated?
During a dental examination, a dentist may recognize damage resulting from bruxism, including: enamel loss from the chewing surfaces of teeth, flattened tooth surfaces, loosened teeth, and fractured teeth and fillings. To prevent further damage to the teeth, bruxism is treated by placing a removable, custom-fitted plastic appliance called a night guard between the upper and lower teeth. In cases where jaw muscles are very tight, a dentist may prescribe muscles relaxants. Left untreated Bruxism can be very destructive (and can lead to tooth loss and jaw dysfunction) — so it is essential if you think you grind your teeth to have this checked by your dentist and managed appropriately.
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