Between 8-10% of the population are thought to grind their teeth regularly. This condition is called “bruxism.” Many people grind their teeth or go through a phase of jaw-clenching at some time in their lives, but a sizeable percentage of Australians grind or clench their teeth on a regular enough basis to lead to dental damage.
While bruxism occurs most commonly in 25 – 44 year-olds, many children also grind their teeth. Britain’s NHS records that one in five children under the age of 11 grind their teeth.
This figure could, however, be higher, as many parents don’t notice that their children are grinding their teeth. And in fact, one of the problems with bruxism is that it is easy to miss, avoid, or misdiagnose.
At Alex Bratic Dental Care we want our patients and readers to be fully aware of the symptoms and dangers of bruxism, so it can be identified and treated early!
Common symptoms of bruxism
Bruxism sufferers may experience some or all of these symptoms:
- Tired or tight jaw muscles
- Sore jaw, neck or face
- Jaw pain that feels kind of like an earache
- Dull headache that starts at the temples
- Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
- Sores on the insides of your cheek
- Unable to get a good night’s sleep
- Teeth grinding or clenching loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
Why is bruxism so dangerous to your teeth?
Bruxism comes with tremendous pressure to your teeth, which can lead to undue wear and tooth decay. It can also make your gums swollen.
If you have crowns, veneers, or fillings, bruxism can damage these treatments leading to the eventual need for replacement.
Over time, the pressure can cause your teeth to shift. Eventually orthodontics may become necessary to fix your teeth. Other potential problems included cracked teeth, gum recession, and worn front teeth. Finally, bruxism brings with it the threat of tooth loss necessitating expensive replacement treatments.
What does bruxism do to your body?
People who suffer from bruxism for many years frequently suffer from chronic pain, particularly in the face muscles. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ—the hinge that enables you to open and close your mouth—can also become inflamed.
This can lead to:
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
Jaw dislocation is also a possible outcome.
Tooth grinding can also cause debilitating headaches (including migraines), which come with their own set of unfortunate symptoms.
Treatments for bruxism often include mouth guards or mouth splints and therapy.
Mouth guards. If you grind your teeth while sleeping, it a mouth guard at night can help. Mouth guards even out the pressure across your jaw and create a barrier between your upper and lower teeth to protect them from damage. Guards can also reduce any grinding noises you make at night.
Treating stress and anxiety. If the underlying cause of bruxism is stress or anxiety, psychological and physical approaches may help.
These treatments include:
- deep breathing
- having a bath
- listening to music
Treating and preventing dental problems if you do have bruxism
If you suffer from bruxism regular dental check-ups ensure that any problems caused by bruxism are treated before further damage can occur. This is key because bruxism can lead to misaligned, cracked, crooked, or missing teeth that need to be addressed through reconstructive dental treatments, such as false teeth, overlays, and crowns.
Medication. Medication is rarely used for teeth grinding, but non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, can help relieve pain or swelling in the jaw area.
In extreme cases, some doctors recommend a muscle relaxant before you go to bed .
If your teeth grinding is a side effect of antidepressants or other medication, your doctor may suggest a change. But don’t stop taking prescribed medication without consulting your doctor!
To help prevent teeth grinding:
- Cut back on alcohol
- Give up smoking
- Avoid recreational drugs
If you do suffer from bruxism, book an appointment at Alex Bratic Dental Care immediately. We can help!
Comfort, Convenience, and Excellent Care at Alex Bratic
Alex Bratic Dental Care in Beenleigh delivers the very best in dental services to patients of all ages. If you, your child, or a family member needs a smile fix, or just a checkup, we’re here for you!
Alex Bratic Dental Care is located on City Road near the Pacific Motorway near Beenleigh Station, with convenient public transport nearby and free onsite parking.