Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) & TMJ
What Causes Teeth Clenching & Grinding (Bruxism)?
Do you clench or grind your teeth when you sleep, when you are working or driving your car? Excessive teeth grinding or clenching is called Bruxism and can create problems for your teeth and jaw.
The causes for teeth grinding and clenching are still being studied, but it seems to have both physical and mental triggers.
Some of the triggers believed to cause teeth clenching and grinding:
- Stress and anxiety.
- Nutritional deficiencies and dehydration.
- Misaligned or crooked teeth.
- Sleep apnoea.
- Some medications.
What are the Symptoms of Teeth Grinding?
There is a range of symptoms that may indicate you are grinding or clenching your teeth
- The sound of teeth being ground together may be noticed by partners or parents.
- Worn down teeth surfaces.
- Sore teeth and sensitivity.
- Facial aches and pain.
- Headaches or earaches.
- Chipped teeth.
- Loose teeth.
- Broken fillings or crowns.
- Jaw joint pain or damage (temporomandibular joint or TMJ).
In many cases, the first you know that you may be clenching or grinding your teeth is when your dentist notices teeth wear during your regular preventative check-ups.
What are Teeth Grinding Treatment Options?
Teeth grinding treatment options need to address the underlying causes as well as take preventative steps to minimise damage to your teeth.
Treatment typically includes exercises to help you relax the muscles of your tongue and around your jaw. You may also need to explore options to address any underlying stress and anxiety.
If teeth clenching or grinding is damaging your teeth or jaw, you may be prescribed an Occlusal Splint or night guard. It is a custom moulded dental appliance that you wear while you sleep to reduce the damage caused by teeth grinding.
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ Disorder (TMJD) is a jaw disorder of your temporomandibular joints which are the joints of each side of your jaw just in front of your ears.
TMJ disorder symptoms include popping or clicking of the jaw as well as earaches, headaches and pain when you open and close your mouth.
TMJD can be caused by teeth grinding but can also be caused by arthritis or injury to the teeth and jaw.
Treatment for TMJD is similar to the treatment options for teeth grinding.
Tips to Reducing Teeth Grinding Symptoms
Find ways to reduce stress or anxiety.
Consciously relax before going to bed by reading or taking a bath.
Train yourself to relax your jaw whenever you feel it tensing up.
Have a dental check-up to look for signs and symptoms.
Cut back on alcohol as it can make teeth grinding worse when you sleep.
Don’t chew on pencils or pens.
Warm packs held against tired facial muscles will help release tension.
Increase your water intake to reduce dehydration.
Cut back on caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soft drinks.
Discuss your current medications with your doctor. Never stop taking your medications without medical supervision.
Worried About Teeth Grinding?
Concerned you or a loved one grind their teeth? Book an appointment with Meg Bowtell Dentist in Alderley.