Grinding your teeth is normal at times. But when you grind unconsciously, especially in your sleep, you may then have bruxism. It is a medical condition characterized by habitual and unconscious rhythmic grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaws that may affect various age groups.
The grinding itself is a symptom. However, since people with bruxism are often unconscious when their teeth are grinding, they are often unaware of their condition. But there are other indications that could help them identify their condition. Other symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, the discomfort of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the stiffness of the neck and shoulders, facial muscle enlargement, sleep disorders and ear pain. Eventually, the grinding leads to teeth loss, fracture or damage.
Teeth Grinding Causes
According to Bruxism Association, some of the factors that may possibly cause teeth grinding are the following: sleep disorders, stress, heavy alcohol, smoking, anxiety, depression, and caffeine intake. Research also shows that teeth grinding condition or bruxism is more common among people with obstructive sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder.
Treatment for Teeth Grinding
Over time, grinding your teeth may cause health complications and teeth damage. The good news is that teeth grinding may be stopped naturally or with help from dental professionals. Stopping the grinding or clenching depends on the underlying cause, whether it is due to anxiety, stress, lifestyle factors or sleep disorder.
The following are some of the effective ways to stop grinding your teeth at night:
- Occlusal Appliance
Wearing an occlusal appliance is the best way to stop the grinding, especially when you are asleep. It prevents tooth wear and protects the teeth. This appliance is custom-made and comes in various kinds such as bruxism appliance, bite plates, bite guards, occlusal bite, occlusal splints, and night guards. This appliance is fitted over the bottom or top teeth. Aside from protecting the temporomandibular joint and teeth, it also reduces jaw muscle pain. It is usually worn at night.
- Mandibular Advancement Devices
Mandibular advancement devices are also used to prevent teeth grinding. It is a custom made, and custom-fit device placed to bring the mandible or bottom jaw forward. This is the preferred treatment option if the grinding is caused by sleep apnea, which is a sleeping disorder.
- Behavioral Management
If the teeth grinding is believed to be caused by stress or anxiety, the proper treatment is behavioral management. This includes psychoanalysis, meditation, and relaxation techniques. In some cases, hypnosis is involved. These management methods manage anxiety and stress and in turn prevent the grinding. Results are even better when behavioral management and other treatment options like occlusal appliance are used.
- Home Remedies
There are also home remedies that you can try. While they may not be treatments in themselves, they certainly help in managing your teeth grinding habit. These remedies may include refraining from doing stressful activities, removing caffeine from your diet, avoiding smoking, and finding time and ways to relax and clear your mind.
Constantly grinding your teeth at night can eventually lead to dental problems like teeth damage or teeth loss. Ending or preventing the grinding and clenching would definitely require dental help. The dentist or oral surgeon will evaluate your grinding condition and determine the probable cause. Depending on the cause and other findings, the dentist will then prescribe the appropriate solution.
If you are having teeth grinding problems, visit a dentist. Contact East Valley Dental Professionals to set up an appointment today.