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Everything you need to know about Teeth Grinding

Teeth are always in style, don't grind them away!

We spend a lot of hours every day trying to take care of our outer body but in doing so we often tend to overlook our dental hygiene. Our teeth are an important part of our body and having healthy teeth make life a little easier. After all, how will you eat all that delicious food if your teeth can’t handle it?

Dental hygiene goes far beyond regularly brushing your teeth. Likewise, dental problems stretch to a wider horizon than toothaches and cavities. Teeth Grinding is one such dental problem which is quite common but goes unnoticed because of lack of knowledge.

What is Teeth Grinding?

Medically known as Bruxism, Teeth Grinding is a condition in which an individual grinds, clenches or gnashes their teeth unconsciously. The movement of teeth grinding is similar to the movement your jaws make when you chew food. But when you do it frequently during the day, in your unconscious state of mind, it is the dental condition Bruxism. As unknown as it may be, it is actually quite a common condition affecting as many as 20% of the adult population.

What are the causes of Bruxism?

Though it is hard to pin point particular causes of Bruxism, it is commonly believed to develop as a stress habit. Since it is primarily a sleep disorder, anxiety and stress are believed to be the common factors that affect people in their sleep. Another anticipated reason for Bruxism is abnormal biting habits. Occlusal Discrepancy, as it is medically known, is a problem that arises when there is inconsistency in your top and bottom teeth coming together which leads to constant teeth grinding. Very rarely, though witnessed, it occurs as a side-effect of some long-term medication such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and psychotropic drugs.

How harmful is Bruxism?

Grinding your teeth may appear to be harmless but gradually all the wear and tear can place enormous stress on your jaw muscles and joints, destroy the enamel and cause untiring jaw and headaches. In addition to damaging the teeth, this condition can give rise to other oral health complications also.

  • Bruxism is among the most common sleep disorders and eventually shortens and blunts the teeth.
  • It may lead to headaches, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfucntion and Myofascial muscle pain.
  • In severe chronic cases of Bruxism, people have been reported to experience arthritis of the temporomonidublar joints.

Bruxism can also lead to nerve damage arising from broken fillings and the constant pressure on the gum line contributes to Gum Recession.

How is Bruxism diagnosed?

It can be quite difficult to diagnose Bruxism especially through visual evidence since it is not the only case of tooth wear. Tooth wear should never be considered a sign of bruxism as it can be caused by forceful brushing, acidic drinks and foods and abrasive toothpastes. However, each wearing pattern is different and recognizable to a trained professional eye.

In this situation, an Electromyographic (EMG) measurement is the most dependable way of diagnosing bruxism.

How can Bruxism be treated?

The treatment of Bruxism is determined by the cause. The trick lies in not only treating the condition but also the cause.

  • Bite Evaluation: Abnormal biting habits can be a cause of Bruxism. Undergoing a dental check up to identify potential dental-related causes. With this, your dentist can determine the root of your habit.
  • Effective Stress Management: In case of Bruxism caused by stress and anxiety, the latter should be treated in addition to the former. Some people can handle stress naturally but for some it can cause problems such as Bruxism. Try to manage your stress efficiently with outputs such as yoga, meditation etc. If you have discovered that you grind your teeth while sleeping, try taking a bath before sleeping as that will relax you. If your stress is extreme, it is better to take professional help.
  • Wear a Mouth Guard: For Bruxism caused by the misalignment of the jaw or teeth, a dental solution is the best option. Dr. Alamo, here at NEO Dentistry, will fit you for a mouth guard that you can wear at night.

In addition to these, the treatment of Bruxism lies in taking certain precautions. Straying from certain foods and drinks such as those with high concentration of alcohol or caffeine is recommended. Another precaution includes avoiding excessive or unnecessary chewing. This includes staying away from chewing gums. Also, try to avoid chewing on pens and pencils or anything else that is not food.

The first step towards preventing/curing Bruxism is to get in touch with your dentist. If you experience constant jaw or headaches or find yourself grinding your teeth then do not delay calling your teeth professional.