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From time to time, we often see people grind and clench their teeth while they are sleeping or sometimes while awake. Random teeth grinding is medically called Bruxism. It usually does not cause any harm, but when it occurs regularly, it can damage the teeth and can cause other oral health complications.
Teeth grinding often occur during sleep; that’s why people are often unaware of whether they grind their teeth or not. But, if you experience a dull, persistent headache or sore jaw when you wake up, it is a symptom of Bruxism. Other people are usually told by their loved ones who notice or hear grinding at night.
Consult your dentist if you suspect you may be grinding your teeth. The doctor will examine your mouth for jaw tenderness and unnecessary wear on your teeth, which are the signs of Bruxism.
How Does Bruxism Affect Your Teeth?
Chronic teeth grinding can cause fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. It can also aggravate your TMJ or even change the appearance of your face. It can wear teeth down to stumps that would need bridges, crowns, root canals, partial dentures, or even complete dentures, and all of these procedures are quite expensive and time-consuming.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding:
Signs and symptoms of Bruxism are:
- Teeth grinding or clenching loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
- Flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth
- Increased tooth pain
- Tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw
- Jaw, neck or face pain
- Dull headache around temples
- Damage on the inside of your cheek
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding can be due to physical, psychological, and genetic factors, but still, doctors cannot fully understand what causes Bruxism. Stress and anxiety are usually linked to teeth grinding while sleeping, but abnormal bite, missing, or crooked teeth can also be linked to it. Another cause can be a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
These elements increase your risk of teeth grinding:
Stress and Anxiety: people who are prone to stress, anger, frustration, and anxiety are at higher risk of acquiring Bruxism.
Person’s Age: Teeth grinding is quite common among children and often goes away by adulthood.
Hyperactive Personality: people with aggressive, agitated, competitive, or overactive personalities have a higher risk of Bruxism.
Medications and Other Conditions: certain antidepressants may have an uncommon side effect, which can cause Bruxism. According to Mayo Clinic, it can be linked to some mental health disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, GERD, epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
If you have any signs of Bruxism or your dentist suspects that you have Bruxism, your dentist will try to determine its cause by inquiring about your general oral health, medications, daily routines, and sleep habits and will decide whether or not you need treatment or not.
What Treatments Are Available for Teeth Grinding?
Usually, treatment for Bruxism isn’t necessary. It often goes away in adulthood without treatment, but if during adulthood, a person grinds or clench their teeth badly, then he or she would require therapy. Nevertheless, if the problem is severe and persistent, then other approaches, like medications, can be given to prevent tooth damage and relieve any jaw ache or discomfort.
Although they may not completely stop you or your mate from teeth grinding these methods may help prevent or correct your teeth:
Mouthguards are designed and constructed from hard acrylic or soft materials to keep your teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding.
Sometimes the teeth wear out, and this leads to sensitivity or the inability to chew correctly so your doctor may reshape the surface of your teeth or use crowns to repair the damage done to the surface of your teeth.
There is no easy way to get rid of Bruxism, but these methods listed below might help relieve Bruxism:
Managing Stress or Anxiety:
If you think that you grind your teeth because of stress or anxiety, then you need to learn strategies that can help you stay relaxed, such as doing meditation or yoga. Even though medication is not very helpful in Bruxism, but your doctor might recommend short-term use of anti-anxiety medications to help relieve stress.
If you feel that Bruxism is related to your sleep issues, then consult your doctor who might recommend a sleep medicine specialist. Sleep medicine specialists will conduct a few tests to assess the root of teeth grinding and decide if you have sleep apnea or some other sleep disorder.
In some cases, a muscle relaxant before bedtime is suggested by a doctor to keep your jaw muscles relaxed while you sleep.
In severe cases, botox is injected into the jaw muscle to help the jaw muscle not contract as much, but instead, relax. In turn, this assists in decreasing teeth grinding.
Lifestyle remedies for Bruxism:
- Try to reduce stress – take it easy; listen to soothing music, take a warm bath or meditate. These are just a few methods that can help you unwind and may lessen your risk of getting Bruxism. Here are 10 more ways to drastically reduce stress.
- Avoid Caffeine or Alcohol: try to avoid caffeinated coffee, tea, and alcohol after dinner as they may aggravate the signs of Bruxism. Cut back on foods and beverages that contain caffeine, such as fizzy drinks and chocolates.
- Acquire a good sleeping routine: Bruxism may reduce if you start getting a good night’s sleep. Having trouble sleeping? Here are 7 tips to get better sleep.
- Regular dental exams: visiting your dentist for regular dental exams is the best way to recognize any signs of Bruxism.
Home remedies to Stop Grinding your Teeth:
- Ask your dentist to fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.
- Avoid chewing on pencils or pens and chewing gum as it makes your jaw muscles get overused, and you would be more likely to grind your teeth at night because of stressed jaw muscles.
- Remember to not clench or grind your teeth during the day.
- Hold a warm washcloth against your cheek before going to bed to relax your jaw muscles.
If you feel you are having issues with Bruxism or teeth grinding, talk to your dentist for ways to resolve. Besides, your teeth are essential for your beautiful smile and for eating yummy, nutritious food.
Results may vary. Information and statements made are for general purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Her Own Health does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Her Own Health are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.