Teeth grinding (bruxism) is the involuntary habit of clenching, gnashing or grinding of your teeth. It often occurs during sleep; however, some people may also grind whilst awake. Generally, teeth grinding can be a result of emotional stress, later causing cracks and fractures of the tooth enamel, larger amounts of wear and tear (making the teeth vulnerable to bacteria), strains on the jaw, sore jaw muscles, and teeth having higher sensitivity to hot and cold items. Additional factors that may cause teeth grinding involve biological (genetics), psychological (emotions and personality traits), physical structure of jaw and teeth (overbite or abnormal bite, having missed or crooked teeth) and/or external factors (e.g. smoking, caffeine intake, alcohol).
Prevention and Treatment
If you suspect yourself or your family may be grinding their teeth, seek oral health professional advice as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment will decrease the extent of injury, and the treat the grinding before further damage. To make the diagnosis, we may need to take x-rays to check the severity of the problem and the damage done to the teeth and surrounding bone structure. Some therapy may also be recommended to assist in removal or reduction of the habit.
Direct treatment options to address bruxism include repairing the tooth damage and wearing a bite splint (mouthguard) at night to prevent the teeth from wearing down. If you are aware of your teeth grinding, our dentist can prescribe you to wear a soft plastic mouthguard (bite splint) to wear whilst you sleep to prevent further grinding. This plastic will encapsulate the upper jaw from the lower jaw to create a barrier reducing the sensation of clenching and grinding of your teeth as well as protecting against further damage.
However, if the grinding has already caused wear and tear on the tooth, you may need to repair the tooth damage. This will involve using dental fillings, crowns or inlays to replace damaged tooth surfaces. In cases where tooth fractures extend into the root canal,additional treatment may be required. Having these procedures done at a manageable time will ensure the safety of your teeth and avoid extraction and surgery.