Causes, signs and how to get help for teeth grinding
Known in medical terms as Bruxism, teeth grinding is in fact a very common condition amongst Australians. Many people grind their teeth or clench their jaw at some point during the day, most particularly at night. Occasionally grinding your teeth during a stressful situation is ok, however it can become serious when the habit is significantly impacting your oral health. Severe teeth grinding can often lead to fractured or broken teeth resulting in the loss of teeth and the need for dental surgery or implants, and can also affect the ligaments of the jaw and face.
As the Australian Dental Association says, teeth grinding “is one of those tricky conditions that you could be suffering from without even knowing it.” We often see patients at TLC Dental who are experiencing adverse symptoms as a result of this condition. We’ve put together some information on all you need to know about teeth grinding and what you can do to improve the condition.
What causes a person to grind their teeth?
Specialists believe that teeth grinding is both a physical and psychological condition, as the general habit is caused by high stress and anxiety levels. It can also be as a result of an incorrect or abnormal bite or unbalanced or mispositioned teeth. In some cases, the sleep disorder, sleep apnea, can be a cause as well.
What are the signs to look out for that I am grinding my teeth?
The most common signs and symptoms of teeth grinding are:
- A constant and dull headache, which is worse in the mornings
- A sore or stiffened jaw, most especially when you wake up
- Wearing down of teeth, or fractured or broken teeth
- Hypersensitive teeth, again especially in the morning
Most people however, are often alerted to their condition by a loved one who can actually hear and see them grinding their teeth at night – as it elicits quite a specific, often irritating, sound.
What help can I get if I grind my teeth?
There are many treatment methods you can access to help and eventually cure teeth grinding. The most common and most often referred to by dental specialists are:
Seek help for stress
Many dental specialists may suggest seeking psychological assistance or counselling to help manage your stress and anxiety levels. Dealing with the psychological issues you are experiencing that might be causing you to grind your teeth can be a huge help in alleviating the condition. Implementing other lifestyle changes such as a healthy eating plan and an exercise regime will also go a long way in lowering your stress levels too.
Medical and dental treatment
Dental specialists will be able to fit you with a mouth guard that can protect your teeth at night from fracturing or wearing down severely. They might also suggest muscle relaxants as medication for the condition as well. If the condition is as a result of a sleep disorder, your dental specialist may refer you to a sleep disorder specialist to help as well.
Healthy eating and exercise has already been mentioned as possible avenues to explore that will greatly assist in reducing your stress levels. In terms of foods and drinks to avoid, most dental specialists will suggest cutting out caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and sodas. Alcohol should also be avoided as teeth grinding can actually intensify when using alcohol. Chewing gum should be avoided too.
Teeth grinding is a common condition that can often be managed and treated effectively with the help of professionals and a few easy to do lifestyle changes.
For more information on teeth grinding and other dental care information, contact TLC Dental today.