01 Dec All about Clenching and Grinding Teeth
You may unconsciously clench, grind, or gnash your teeth tightly together during the day or grind them during sleep. This habit or involuntary condition is called “bruxism.”
While awake, bruxism is often triggered by, anger or stress, as well as periods of concentration. People may not even be aware of the grinding or clenching of the teeth. Once made aware of the habit, it can be reduced by changing the behavior. In some cases, changing the behavior is not enough and different types of splint therapy must be applied.
There are two main types: awake bruxism, occurring while awake, and sleep bruxism, occurring while asleep. Sleep bruxism is the more difficult of the two types to control because the physical movement during sleep may be involuntary; it, therefore, is not effectively treated by behavior modification.
Sleep bruxism is related to periods of sleep-related arousal when a person goes from a deeper stage of sleep to a lighter one. This pattern of arousal can repeat several times in one night. The force that the jaw generates while clenching or grinding during sleep can be very strong, which overworks the jaw muscles and shows itself in the morning in the form of jaw pain, fatigue, or even jaw dysfunction. The sufferer may also have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
What Causes Clenching or Grinding Teeth?
Common causes are:
- Stress or anxiety
- Bottled-up anger or frustration
- Malocclusion (imperfect alignment of the upper and lower teeth)
- A child’s reaction to pain from teething or an earache
- A complication that stems from Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease
- Uncommon: A side effect of specific psychiatric medications, such as some antidepressants
The Telltale Signs
Signs and symptoms include:
- Fractured or cracked teeth
- Wear and tear on teeth that seems out of the ordinary
- Worn dental restorations, such as losing crowns
- Jaw tenderness
- Heightened tooth sensitivity
If you suspect you have bruxism, book an appointment to see our team as soon as possible. We will examine your teeth thoroughly for signs of teeth wear and monitor the process over the next several visits to determine it is intensifying and whether you require treatment.
A mild form of bruxism may not require any treatment. However, it can be ongoing and be severe enough to trigger headaches, damage to teeth, and jaw disorders, to name just a few of the issues.
As you can have sleep bruxism and not even realize it, understanding the signs and symptoms to look for can help you identify when there is an issue and seek dental treatment. This strategy helps catch bruxism before it progresses further and becomes more complex. Going for regular dental checkups is key too as we can catch potential problems with your teeth or jaw right away.
Treatments for Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Splints – Mouth splints are made to fit precisely over your upper or lower teeth, and they are typically made of hard acrylic.
Mouth Guards – We can fit you with a mouth guard. It costs less financially than splints and is softer too, so it is comfortable to wear.
Correcting Misaligned Teeth – If bruxism is linked with dental problems, this type of treatment can be helpful.
If teeth have been worn down to the point where chewing is not possible, which is an extreme case, Dr. Moradi may need to use crowns or overlays to reshape the chewing surfaces of the teeth entirely.