Check out the photo above. Notice the edges of the upper and lower front teeth? It shows how much your teeth can be worn down from teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding or Bruxing is term given to people who clench or grind their teeth. Often they are not even aware that they are doing it. Studies show that people who do NOT grind or clench the teeth normally touch their teeth together for a very short period of time in 24 hours- usually just a few minutes total.
The reality is that most people clench or grind their teeth on occasion. For example when your angry, anxious or if you have disturbed sleep. But grinding or clenching on a regular basis is called bruxing.
Latest research shows that lifestyle in response to stress and anxiety is a significant cause. Night time bruxing can produce forces of 250 lbs per square inch. That’s enough force to crack the shell of a walnut!
Grinding- side to side movement of the jaw- often occurs when sleeping. A as side effect certain medications and drugs act to stimulate the brain and can result in teeth grinding.
Teeth clenching- clamping the upper and lower jaws together- often occurs in the daytime.
The consequences of bruxing can result in:
- Front teeth worn down so they are flat
- micro-cracks and broken fillings that can lead to nerve damage
- Migraines or headaches and aching jaws due to overworking chewing muscles
- Teeth worn down to dentine causing sensitivity to temperature
- Gum recession due to pressure at the gum line
- Loose teeth and gum pockets due side to side pressure
It is very hard to completely stop bruxing however the effects can certainly be reduced. The best thing to do is see your dentist to assess whether you may be grinding. One practical treatment option is to provide a custom-fit hard bite plate. It is designed to absorb the force of bruxing and reduce the forces on your teeth and reduce the muscle stress. Over the counter soft night guards are available but as they are soft they often get chewed away. Unfortunately soft night guards actually stimulate the wearer to brux even more in their sleep. Although the teeth are protected, the muscles and the jaw joint is not protected; so muscles symptoms such as headaches will increase with soft appliances.
Additional treatments for bruxism may include: orthodontics; stress reduction; muscle relaxants such botulinium injections; adjustments to medications.
Speak to your dentist to see how you can be helped.
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