Teeth Grinding and Clenching - During sleep

Teeth Grinding and Clenching While Sleeping – Bruxism FAQ

What is Bruxism?

If you wake up with headaches or acute pain, like tightening a vise, you can be one of many people who grind their teeth at night. Many people are unaware they have the disorder (called bruxism) because it occurs at night, during sleep. Your dentist can usually detect signs of wear on the teeth. Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding and clenching that causes abraded teeth and facial pain. In addition to grinding teeth, bruxers also may bite their fingernails, pencils and chew the inside of the cheeks. Usually the disease is diagnosed too late because those who suffer from bruxism do not realize they have symptoms unless somebody else tells them. Others mistakenly believe that their teeth must touch at all times. About one in four people suffer from bruxism, which can usually be treated by a dentist.

Can Bruxism cause harm?

Directly or indirectly, bruxism can cause many health problems. Grinding can cause teeth to become painful or loose and damage their top layers (like dentine). Patients can literally lose parts of the teeth, leaving them with worn surfaces or fractured enamel. People who have otherwise healthy teeth and gums can clench their teeth so often and so hard that over time their teeth become sensitive and may experience jaw pain and headaches. Powerful biting when not eating may also lead to pathological mobility of the mandible.

What are the symptoms of Bruxism?

Teeth grinding is a common occurrence for many people. If there is facial pain, fatigue or other issues, treatment is necessary. Talk to your dentist if you are suffering from bruxism. During regular dental visits, they usually check for physical signs of bruxism. When a person has bruxism, the teeth look flat. Teeth are so damaged the enamel is rubbed off, exposing the inside of the tooth, called dentin. When exposed, dentin can become very sensitive. People suffering from bruxism may experience pain in TMJ (temporomandibular joint) which may manifest itself as popping and clicking joints.
Women, who are more likely TMJ disorders, also have a higher prevalence of various types of bruxism, possibly because they are more likely to suffer from tissue damage due to mandibular teeth clenching and grinding . Briefly, stress and certain personality types are at the root of bruxism. Throughout human history, bruxism has affected people with nervous tension. Anger, pain and frustration can trigger bruxing. People with aggressive temper, competitive or hasty are also at high risk for bruxism.

What causes Bruxism?

Further studies are needed to determine the exact cause of bruxism, but it is believed that factors are both psychiatric and physical. Among the factors contributing to illness are stress or sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or crooked or missing teeth.

What can be done about Bruxism?
Mouthguard Nightguard Teeth Grinding or Clenching

Mouthguard device worn during sleep can protect teeth, but does not lead to permanent cure.

There are several ways to treat bruxism. Dentists specialized in cosmetic dentistry will determine which single treatment or combination of treatments is right for you. If stress is the major cause of bruxism, people need to find ways to relax. People who have difficulty handling stress may need professional help or dentist may prescribe muscle relaxants to relax jaw muscles. In many cases they can prescribe a medical night guard (or mouth guard) that prevents the manifestation of symptoms of bruxism during sleep. To alleviate facial muscle pain, physical therapy may be needed. The objective of therapy is for the patient to change behavior by learning how to rest the tongue, teeth and lips.
When some people become aware of the problem, simply advising them to rest their tongue upward with teeth apart and lips shut may be enough to make them change their behavior and relieve discomfort. However, the dentist can make a plastic mouth appliance, such as night guard, which is designed to absorb the bite force that causes damage and pain, thus helping changing patient behavior.
Avoiding or cuttiong back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as Coke, chocolate, and coffee, may also help a lot.

Why is a night guard (mouthguard) or protective device recommend?

If designed correctly, the protection against biting may help prevent pathological mobility of teeth, protect ceramic restorations, and to protect teeth from abrasion due to teeth grinding and gathering.
A bite plate is a plastic device which prevents teeth from coming together. In some cases, such as overbiting, it may eventually improve the bite intensity level. A method used to treat injuries in more serious cases of grinding involves reshaping or reconstructing the biting surfaces with crowns or inlays or total reconstruction of the mouth.

Aesthetic aspects and consequences of Grinding Teeth

Bruxism (teeth grinding) can cause an increase in size of the masseter muscles resulting in widening of the jaw. As a result, one can end up with a square appearance. The square jaw in females is not always aesthetically pleasing. This can be treated by injecting antiwrinkle substances (such as Botox) into the masseter muscles located in the side of the jaw. This will relax and flatten the muscles and reduce bruxism effects. The face will gradually ovalize, shape which is considered more beautiful and feminine.

2 thoughts on “Teeth Grinding and Clenching While Sleeping – Bruxism FAQ

  1. I recommend adults to insert 2 regular size cotton balls inside your mouth and bite them at the back of your jaw using your wisdom teeth…biting the cotton is soft and protective…it soaks excess of saliva and don’t think it is toxic….(like plastic mouth guards perhaps)…it works for me, it should work for you…I’m not responsible if you choke on a cotton ball, although in my humble opinion improbable…

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