What is bruxism – Bruxism is the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth. It is defined as ‘a repetitive jaw-muscle activity characterised by clenching or grinding of the teeth and/or bracing or thrusting of the mandible, which has 2 distinct circadian manifestations: during sleep (Sleep bruxism) and during wakefulness (Awake bruxism).
Effects of bruxism – Our teeth are not meant to be in contact all the time. they should make contact with each other only when we swallow or chew food. When teeth are in contact too often or too much, it can cause loss of enamel by wearing it down. Loss of enamel can result in different dental problems like fractures and failure of teeth, shorter teeth, sensitive/painful teeth, erosion of tooth enamel, fractures, and failure of restorations and implants. Clenching or grinding your teeth at day time or night can also result in pain in the jaw, jaw muscle hypertrophy and pain in the muscles of the face.
What can cause bruxism – Reasons for bruxism can be;
Need to concentrate hard (could be for work or studies etc.)
Teething in babies
Bad tooth alignment
Although the reasons for bruxism are poorly understood there are several risk factors for clenching or grinding teeth, these can be;
Medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, ADHD
High anxiety levels
Who may be suffering from bruxism – About 50% of the population grinds their teeth from time to time. About 30% of children grind or clench their teeth. Most of the children will grow out of it and there may not be any lasting effects to their adult teeth. Some will keep grinding their teeth throughout adulthood.
How to find out if you have bruxism – Usually your bed partner is the first person to notice grinding sounds and noises. You could wake up in the morning having the following symptoms;
Painful or tender jaw muscles
Trouble opening the mouth wide
Ling lasting pain in the face
Damage to the teeth
Broken dental fillings
Wear of the teeth
Your dentist will usually notice damaging effects of bruxism on your teeth if you have been going regularly for your dental check-up visits.
What can you do about it –
If you think your medication might be a reason, let your doctor know. They might be able to put you on a different medication.
Counseling to relieve stress in your life
Improving the quality of sleep and heaving enough sleep
Reducing the use of stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine
Wearing a night mouth guard (this is like a sports mouthguard but harder, it tends to lessen the damage to your teeth)
What can happen if I do nothing – Bruxism or grinding of teeth will result in damage to the teeth if nothing is done. In some cases bruxism is mild and damage is little. In other cases bruxism can be serious and so can be the damage to the teeth (pain/sensitivity/fractures or even loss of tooth), facial pain, poor sleep, disturbance to the sleep of bed partner. If you are aware of it, then it would be wise to do something about it before it causes damage to your teeth and wellbeing.
To find out if you have bruxism or to get a night guard please contact us on 07 3399 6228.