People who are at high risk for dental problems include those who have a tendency to clench their jaw or grind their teeth. If you find yourself clenching your jaw throughout the day, or you wake up with sensitive teeth, a sore jaw, or a headache, you might suffer from bruxism – grinding, clenching or gnashing of the teeth.
This teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching habit is a common condition that affects up to one-third of adults in the daytime and more than one in ten in their sleep. Occasionally grinding your teeth most likely won’t cause any harm. However, according to the Bruxism Association, the most common symptoms of teeth grinding are headaches and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort – jaw soreness or tight muscles around your jaw. These symptoms are often accompanied by various oral signs, such as:
· Fractured, chipped or loose teeth
· Inflammation, recession of gums
· Increased tooth sensitivity due to diminished tooth enamel
Types of bruxism
Bruxism can happen when you’re awake or asleep. The grinding action is the same, but awake and asleep bruxism are considered two separate conditions.
Awake bruxism: You clench your jaw and grind your teeth during the day with this condition. Daytime clenching is usually triggered by stress, anxiety, tension, or even concentration. Feeling anxious, stressed or angry can lead to teeth grinding. Awake bruxism often doesn’t need treatment, you’re more likely to notice and stop. Stress management can help and learning ways to become aware of the problem can also help reduce the frequency.
Sleep bruxism: Night time grinding is sometimes related to hyperactivity, sleep apnea, or acid reflux, and can appear as a side effect of certain medications intended to treat depression. Also, tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, and illicit drugs can increase teeth-grinding risk.
You may not get the help you need since you’re unaware it is happening. Another challenge with sleep bruxism is that people don’t realize how strongly they’re clenching their jaw and teeth.
Can children have teeth grinding?
Like adults, children can have bruxism. Parents may hear their children grinding their teeth in their sleep. But bruxism in children may not lead to long-term damage. Children’s teeth and jaws change quickly, and they may outgrow bruxism by the time they lose their baby teeth.
Regardless of age, teeth grinding in children can lead to:
· Jaw pain
· TMJ disorders (jaw clicking and other problems)
· Wear and tear on the teeth
While stress is a main cause of bruxism in adults, that’s not usually the case with children. Teeth grinding in children may come from:
· Misaligned teeth
· Mouth irritation
· Obstructive sleep apnea
Talk to your dentist if your child’s teeth look worn or you hear grinding. Also get any complaints of jaw or teeth pain checked out.
If you are suffering from bruxism, visit your dentist as soon as possible, so that you can avoid long-term damage. If the bruxism turns out to be stress related, health providers can also recommend stress relief options.
Crown Dental Studio is one of the few truly 24-hour dental practices in Durban as this is not limited to emergency dentistry treatment.
T: +27 81 207 8621