Teeth grinding, medically known as “Bruxism” is occasional or repeated grinding or clenching of teeth, which happens mostly during sleep. It is generally harmless but chronic grinding can lead to dental complications.
Teeth grinding can be a result of stress, anxiety, an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth or asleep disorder - such as sleep apnea.
- Awake bruxism: Occurs due to emotions such as anxiety, stress, depression, anger, frustration or tension or as a coping mechanism.
- Sleep bruxism: A result of sleep-related chewing activity associated with arousals during sleep.
SIGNS and SYMPTOMS
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Flattened or fractured teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
- Increased Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Tight Jaw muscles or a locked jaw
- Jaw, neck or face pain
- A dull headache or an earache
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
- Sleep disruption (for you and your partner)
Excess or chronic teeth grinding can result in a fractured, loosened, broken or loss of teeth. You may need an advanced and expensive dental treatment to fix this.
A regular dental exam can expose the signs of bruxism.
If you grind your teeth while sleeping, wearing a mouth guard or mouth splint at night can prove helpful. They even out the pressure across your jaw and create a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth, protecting them from further damage. They also control any grinding noises. -
If stress or anxiety is the underlying cause of your teeth grinding, psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), can prove helpful. It is important to recognise the triggers and adopt relaxation practices such as yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, etc. Treating sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea may help improve sleep bruxism.
If you feel you have been experiencing teeth grinding, consult a dentist right away to avoid long-term complications.