Grinding or Clenching
Medically referred to as bruxism, teeth grinding or clenching can occur consciously or unconsciously. While occasional grinding might not pose harm, persistent bruxism can cause damage to oral tissues and lead to various oral health complications.
Why do people clench or grind their teeth: the reasons for teeth grinding is not always clear and can vary from patient to patient. At Channel Islands Family Dental Office, our experts work tirelessly to diagnose the physical, psychological or genetic factors that can cause bruxism.
Bruxism is broadly classified into two types
Daytime Bruxism: Daytime bruxism refers to the grinding or clenching of teeth that occurs while an individual is awake. Typically, this is linked to emotional challenges like anxiety, stress, or anger.
Nocturnal Bruxism: Conversely, nocturnal bruxism occurs when an individual grinds or clenches their teeth during sleep. Our experts at Channel Islands Family Dental Office emphasize that patients are often unaware of this condition since it happens while they are asleep. This can result in jaw pain and various other oral health issues. In children, teeth grinding can stem from misaligned upper and lower jaws or as a response to teething or ear pain. In adults and young children, stress and anxiety are typically the culprits behind teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
Impact of Lifestyle and Sleep Disorders:
Engaging in lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, or high caffeine intake can also be factors contributing to nocturnal teeth grinding or clenching.
Moreover, sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also be identified as potential reasons for bruxism.
Diagnosing the Condition: Teeth grinding or jaw clenching typically occurs during sleep and is often observed by parents or siblings. However, consistent dull headaches or a sore jaw upon waking up could be indicative of bruxism. If you suspect that either you or a family member grinds their teeth during sleep, it is advisable to consult your dentist. A dental specialist can conduct a physical examination of your mouth, checking for signs of bruxism such as jaw tenderness and wear and tear. This evaluation helps to eliminate other potential causes like ear infections.
Symptoms of clenching and grinding
Identifying Bruxism Symptoms: Teeth grinding or clenching often occurs during sleep, making it challenging for a person to recognize the symptoms. However, some signs to be attentive to include:
- Disturbed sleep
- Headaches or facial pain upon waking
- Ear pain
- Wear or loss of enamel
- Painful or loose teeth
- Soreness in jaw muscles
- Tooth fractures due to excessive pressure
- TMJ sounds like clicking or popping
- Pain during chewing
- Jaw locking
Treatment and methods to prevent
The treatment for grinding and clenching of teeth generally includes use of night guards, a retainer like instrument worn overnight, to prevent damage to the teeth and other oral tissues. it won’t stop grinding or clenching but will help in reducing the symptoms.
Diverse Approaches in Bruxism Treatment: At Channel Islands Family Dental, our dentists adopt varied methods to address bruxism, tailoring the approach based on specific symptoms and stressors. These approaches encompass:
- Medications: Muscle relaxants may be prescribed to ease tension in the jaw muscles, aiming to prevent grinding.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Implementing stress management techniques and relaxation training proves beneficial in helping patients reduce the symptoms and complications associated with bruxism.
Additional Preventive Measures: Here are alternative preventive techniques:
- Steer clear of food or beverages with caffeine, cola, or chocolate.
- Refrain from alcohol consumption.
- Avoid chewing on non-food items like pens.
- Stay mindful of daytime chewing or grinding. Try to interrupt this habit by keeping your lips together, teeth apart, and placing your tongue behind the front teeth.