Also known as Bruxism
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding (sliding back and forth each other) and clenching (tightly holding the top and bottom together) of teeth.
It can happen to both children and adults. Also, it happens on both day and night, although what commonly poses a problem is its occurrence during sleep because it is harder to control. Many complaints point out to the sound produced by this habit being loud enough to wake them up or their parents (children) and/or sleep partners (adults) in the middle of the night.
What causes it?
The exact cause of bruxism is unknown. However, factors that may play a role include stress, sleep habits, abnormal bite (misaligned teeth), posture, and diet.
Should this be a cause for alarm?
In some cases, bruxism could be so mild that treatment is not really necessary. For some, this condition happens more frequently and in greater intensity. Others report symptoms such as headache, painful jaw, toothaches, worn/loose teeth, cracked teeth, earache, anxiety, and insomnia. This could lead to complications if left untreated.
How is bruxism treated?
The treatment for bruxism is different for each person. Your dentist could suggest different methods depending on the severity of your case. These methods may include stress reduction and learning relaxation techniques, wearing a protective night guard during sleep, medication for muscle pain and spasms, and dental treatments to repair and prevent further damage teeth.
A night guard is a custom-made device from acrylic or plastic provided by your dentist. It protects the teeth by preventing the upper and lower teeth from touching.
Other self-care tips include the following: hot or cold application to help relieve sore jaw muscles; avoiding food and drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and sodas; avoiding alcohol (since it can promote muscle spasms); avoid biting or chewing hard food (i.e. nuts, candies, chewing gum) and objects such as pens and pencils; make a habit out of relaxing your face and jaw; massaging the muscles of your face, neck, and shoulders; and getting plenty of sleep.
How can I prevent Bruxism?
It is very important to have regular dental visits since bruxism may not be immediately identified, especially if it only occurs during sleep. Your dentist can diagnose bruxism from signs manifested such as unusual wear spots on your teeth and other associated symptoms. If recognized in its early stages, complications resulting from this condition–temporomandibular joint disorders, face pain, tooth damage, and even depression–could be highly prevented.
Contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Malek today.