Teeth Grinding
Teeth Grinding

Dental Health and Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

It is not something new that people grind their teeth or clench their jaw when they sleep. This condition is medically referred to as bruxism. Bruxism or teeth grinding may not cause any harm unless you grind your teeth regularly. When teeth grinding becomes more frequent, it may damage the teeth or lead to other oral health complications.

Causes of teeth grinding

Teeth grinding occurs during your sleep. The causes have been linked to factors such as stress and anxiety, sleeping disorders like talking and mumbling in the sleep or violent behaviours (kicking out and punching) while sleeping. Taking some antidepressant medications such as sertraline, paroxetine and fluoxetine may cause teeth grinding. Other factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking, using some recreational drugs like ecstasy or cocaine as well as taking caffeinated drink can increase or worsen teeth grinding.

Symptoms of Teeth grinding

Majority of people who suffer from teeth grinding do not know they grind their teeth because it happens unconsciously during sleep. However, experiencing constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a symptom of teeth grinding. Some people who grind their teeth get to know they do so from their loved ones who hear them grinding at night.

You should visit a dentist to examine your teeth if you know or suspect you grind your teeth so that your mouth and jaw can be examined for signs of bruxism. Some symptoms of bruxism include jaw tenderness and excessive wears on your teeth.

Harmful effects of teeth grinding

Chronic teeth grinding may lead to fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth in some cases. It may cause your teeth to wear if care is not taken. You may need crowns, bridges, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures when teeth wearing is severe. Severe grinding does not only damage the teeth, it can also result in tooth loss. It can affect your jaws and even change the appearance of your face.

Preventing teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is an unconscious act when you are asleep. Your dentist may recommend you to wear a mouthguard before you sleep to protect you from grinding your teeth.

Stress is one of the causes of teeth grinding. Your dentist will give you some tips on how you can reduce stress such as taking regular exercise, seeing a physical therapist, or taking some prescriptions for muscle relaxation.

Other tips that can help prevent teeth grinding include:

  • Training yourself to avoid grinding your teeth. You can position the tip of your tongue between your teeth so that your jaw muscles can relax thereby reducing teeth grinding.
  • Avoid alcohol – teeth grinding may increase after alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid chewing anything except food. Chewing things like gum allows your jaw muscles to get used to clenching, which makes your teeth to grind.
  • Avoid totally or reduce the intake of foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as cola, chocolate, and coffee.
  • You can prevent teeth grinding when you when you sleep by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

Teeth grinding in children

It is not only adults that grind their teeth; several children grind their teeth as well. Teeth grinding in children is common when they start growing their baby teeth or when their permanent teeth finally start growing. Some children may stop their teeth grinding habit after these two sets of teeth have been fully established.

Children grind their teeth more when sleeping rather than when awake. Some of the reasons children may grind their teeth include irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, psychological factors like anxiety or stress, illnesses and other medical conditions such as nutritional deficiencies, pinworm, allergies or endocrine disorders.

Grinding of teeth in children can cause problem such as jaw pain, headaches and wear on the teeth. You should consult your dentist if your child complains of tooth sensitivity, pain, or if the teeth look worn.

Tips that can prevent teeth grinding in children include:

  • Reducing your child’s stress through massage and stretching exercises to relax the muscles.
  • Dehydration may be linked to teeth grinding. You should include plenty of water in your child’s diet.
  • Take your child to see the dentist for monitoring if you notice teeth grinding.

There is no way you can prevent preschool-age children from grinding except for the tips listed above. However, temporary crowns or night guard can be used to prevent teeth grinding in older children.

Teeth grinding can happen to children as well as adults. You should visit Smile Works Dental if you need consultation from a dentist in London on how you can prevent teeth grinding. Call 020 71834091 today to book an appointment.

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