- Dr. Lai
What is Teeth Grinding(Bruxism)?
Bruxism is a condition where you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. While it affects up to 30% of people, it is rarely discussed. It can happen during the day and at night, and can cause a number of problems for your oral health. If bruxism is left untreated, it can damage your teeth and lead to tooth loss.
There are two types of bruxism: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. During awake bruxism, you may clench and grind your teeth due to a multitude of reasons but usually the causes are emotional issues. If you are experiencing stress, anxiousness, or anger, you may have the tendency to clench and grind your teeth as a result. Awake bruxism does not require clinical treatment but rather awareness of the behavior and for an individual to learn methods to reduce the occurrence of the behavior.
On the contrary, sleep bruxism occurs when you clench or grind your teeth subconsciously when you are asleep. Many individuals are unaware they have sleep bruxism as they are not conscious of their clenching and grinding patterns at night. Sleep bruxism is oftentimes more harmful to an individual than awake bruxism as a person unknowingly puts a lot of pressure and clenches and grinds their teeth. It has been reported that individuals can use up to 250 pounds of force when experiencing sleep bruxism!
Bruxism can cause many problems including jaw pain and headaches. In severe cases, bruxism can even lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder). While the exact cause of bruxism is unknown, there are a number of factors that may contribute to the condition, including stress, anxiety, substance use, and misaligned teeth. Signs and symptoms of bruxism include flat teeth, increased tooth and jaw pain, and disrupted sleep.
Bruxism not only affects the adult population but can affect children as well. During the night, parents may hear loud crackling sounds which may be an indication that their children are experiencing sleep bruxism. Since children have primary or baby teeth, the effects of bruxism in children may not be as long term.
It is important to watch out for signs and symptoms of bruxism so corrective measures can be taken. If bruxism is caught at an early stage, the effects of the condition can be minimized. Bruxism can have both social and psychological impacts on individuals. People who suffer from bruxism may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth and be hesitant to smile often. This can lead to social isolation and increased stress levels.
By diagnosing and treating bruxism, an individual can experience reduced jaw pain, reduced tooth wear, and an increased sense of confidence in one’s smile. The effects of bruxism remedies are not only clinical but can impact an individual’s overall health status as well.
If you have symptoms of bruxism, consider visiting your dentist and confirming the severity of your bruxism so you can assess which options are best for you.