Bruxism is the dental term for teeth grinding. Most people grind their teeth from time to time with little to no damage to the teeth or jaw. However, those who continually grind their teeth can cause serious damage to their teeth and other oral health complications can arise.
Bruxism refers to any type of forceful contact between the teeth. This can be a loud and grating contact or a silent and clenching contact. Either form can cause serious damage to the teeth. Many aren’t aware that they have the condition because they grind their teeth only in their sleep. However, bruxism can occur during waking hours as well.
Adults and children both can suffer from the condition. Alcohol, drugs, and certain sleep disorders can exacerbate the condition, making it worse. Children usually develop bruxism as a result of a cold or infection. Often pain from teething or earaches will induce bruxism in toddlers and children.
The cause of bruxism is still unknown. However, it is believed that increased stress and anxiety can greatly increase how often and how severely you grind your teeth. Having an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth are also thought to contribute to teeth grinding.
Occasional bruxism usually does not result in damage to the teeth or jaw. However, chronic teeth grinding can cause serious dental issues. In some cases, grinding can result in tooth fracture, loosening of teeth, or the loss of a tooth or teeth. Grinding over years without treatment can wear the teeth down to stumps, which will require bridges, crowns, root canals, dental implants, or possibly even dentures to repair.
Not only is bruxism bad for your teeth, it is also damaging to the jaw. Grinding can result in hearing loss, change the appearance of your face, and TMJ.
What can I do to stop grinding my teeth?
Being fitted for a mouth guard/night guard will help protect your teeth from the effects of grinding while you sleep. However, in order to cease grinding completely it’s important to treat the triggers for why you grind your teeth.
If stress is causing your bruxism, ask your doctor or dentist about stress reduction techniques and options. Exercise, stress counseling, or prescription muscle relaxers may help reduce how often or severely you grind your teeth.
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