Growing up I could hear my sister grinding her teeth night after night along with talking and walking in her sleep that sound of grinding teeth is not one of my favourite sounds.
When you clench, gnash or grind your teeth that is bruxism. Your teeth are not meant to clench all the time, only when you chew or swallow. Being in contact more than usual can wear your teeth’s enamel down (Enamel is the layer that protects your teeth). Pain in the jaw or jaw muscles can be caused from clenching or grinding if done regularly and tends to happen while asleep, although people can also do these habits during the day. About half the population grinds teeth from time to time, with 1 in 20 people being serious cases. Approximately 30% of children grind but most grow out of this habit.
Would I know I have these habits?
Individuals may not be aware that they grind their teeth in their sleep but a bed partner may notice sounds associated with grinding. You may notice dull headaches in the morning, pain in your jaw and jaw muscles, teeth damage and broken fillings that may give you clues to whether or not you are grinding at night. If you see a Dentist about any of these related issues they will ask you certain questions and assess any wear and tear or damage to your teeth along with checking your jaw function. This may take a few visits. What may cause bruxism can be emotional stress, drug use, illness, not drinking enough water, wrong diet, sleep problems, teething (in babies), bad alignment or problems with dental work. Antidepressants can also be a factor.
Treatments can include learning techniques for relaxation and awareness, stress related counselling and improving your quality of sleep e.g. having a good bedtime routine and relaxing before going to bed. Medications can’t stop bruxism but you can get a mouthguard made to protect your teeth if you are a persistent grinder, though this also can not stop the habit
If you are a grinder or clencher it’s always best to seek professional help from a Dentist about these habits. You may continue to grind but at least you can find ways to protect your teeth and jaw.
Call 9490 8777 to discuss your grinding and bruxism habits with a Dentist at Ashburton Dental Centre