Bruxism is the dental term for teeth grinding. Most people grind their teeth from time to time with little or no damage to the teeth or jaw. However, those who continually grind their teeth can cause serious damage to their teeth and other oral health complications can arise.
Bruxism refers to any type of forceful contact between the teeth. This can be a loud and grating contact or a silent and clenching contact. Either form can cause serious damage to the teeth. Many are not aware that they have the condition because they grind their teeth only in their sleep. However, this can occur during waking hours as well.
Adults and children both can suffer from this condition. Alcohol, medications, stress, and certain sleep disorders can exacerbate the condition. Children may develop bruxism as a result of a cold or infection. Often pain from teething or earaches will induce the condition in toddlers and children.
Why do I grind my teeth?
The cause of bruxism is still unknown. However, it is believed that increased stress and anxiety can greatly increase how often and how severely you grind your teeth. Having an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth are also thought to contribute to teeth grinding.
Why is bruxism a problem?
Occasional bruxism usually does not result in damage to the teeth or jaw, but chronic teeth grinding can cause serious dental issues. In some cases, grinding can result in tooth fracture, loosening of teeth, or even tooth loss. Grinding over years without treatment can wear the teeth down to stumps, which will require bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, or possibly even dentures to repair.
Not only is it bad for your teeth, it is also damaging to the jaw and can cause pain in the jaw joint, pain upon chewing food, and tension headaches.
What can I do to stop grinding my teeth?
Being fitted for a night guard will help protect your teeth from the effects of grinding while you sleep. However, in order to cease grinding completely it’s important to treat the triggers for why you grind your teeth.
If stress is the cause, ask your doctor or dentist about stress reduction techniques and options. Exercise, stress counseling, or prescription muscle relaxers may help reduce how often or severely you grind your teeth.
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