Teeth-Grinding: Things You May Be Wondering, and What You Should Know
April 8th, 2022
What is teeth grinding?
Teeth-grinding consists of the clenching and grinding of teeth and is a common habit that you may already be doing subconsciously. However, most people are either unaware that they grind their teeth or are unsure of the consequences or solutions to teeth-grinding.
Is there a medical term for teeth grinding? Yes, it’s called Bruxism.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for the occasional unconscious habit of grinding or clenching your teeth. Most commonly occurs during sleep (called sleep bruxism) but can also occur during the day (awake Bruxism) when you’re awake. Although scientists are unclear about the origin of Bruxism and how it comes about, there are symptoms and signs associated with this teeth- grinding that can reveal if treatment is required.
Teeth-grinding, especially night grinding, is tricky to put a finger on. It’s rather hard to tell if your night grinding yourself, making it hard to distinguish if you need retainers for when you sleep. Although this may be the case, there are common symptoms that result from semi-consistent teeth-grinding.
How to Know if you Teeth-grind: Common symptoms
- Increased tooth sensitivity.
- Bruised gums on inside of your cheek (teeth imprints where your gum meets your clenched teeth)
- Chipped or flattened teeth surface
- Worn tooth enamel
- Worked jaw muscles (usually after waking up)
- Damage to fillings
- Minor headaches starting in the temple area (side of the head between forehead and ear)
If you notice any reoccurring symptoms stated above, this is a good indicator that you night- grind. It is also common for your partner to be aware of your night-grinding, many people report that their partner can hear the sound of teeth grinding during sleep.
Stress and anxiety are also related to teeth grinding, both during the day and at night. Studies show that this relationship between stress and teeth-grinding is true but can also be caused by external factors. Therefore, being in a stressed state can result in night or daytime grinding, but this correlation is not fully explanatory. There can be other reasons and factors as to why this may be happening.
What to do:
What’s important to take away is realizing that you are teeth grinding and taking the precautions necessary to avoid further health complications. If you notice any of the symptoms stated above or suspect that you grind your teeth, notify your dentist in your next visit or book an appointment for this case.
Your dentist will examine your bite and alignment and recommend the proper treatment based on the severity of your case. In most cases, a custom night-guard is the best option. Your dentist will take a mold of your top set of teeth, then send it to the lab to get your custom mouthguard.
Other solutions to teeth-grinding can include stress-reducing activities, such as meditation and yoga (can differ from person to person), plus jaw exercises that can loosen up the facial muscles. Although these at-home techniques can help, a night-guard will address the problem more effectively. Experts recommend these techniques as a complementary treatment and not supplementary to a professional mouthguard.
Mouthguard: Things to note
A custom mouthguard is a straightforward and effective way to treat Bruxism. The mouthguard sits snug on your top set of teeth, protecting it from tooth-to-tooth contact, preventing any damage to your teeth. Your dentist will recommend putting on your mouthguard ideally as much as possible.
Most importantly, wear it every night before you sleep for the duration of your sleep. In terms of pricing, although a custom mouthguard may not be the cheapest on the market compared to a generic sports mouthguard, they are accustomed to your jaw and teeth. Therefore, they will best suit you for longevity, quality and comfortableness.
It is essential to note that any dental equipment requires consistent cleaning to avoid bacteria growth. It is important to keep your mouthguard clean; brush it with a bit of liquid soap or toothpaste using a soft bristle brush right after you take it off in the morning. Brush it well, rinse and store in your mouthguard container. If your mouthguard container has no holes, keep it a tad open to allow air circulation for proper drying to minimize bacteria growth. Improper maintenance of the mouthguard can lead to bad breath or even infection.
It is also recommended to deep clean it once a month, using a mouthguard tablet cleaner. These cleaners can vary in instructions and methods, but most commonly consists of adding the tablet or powder to a glass of water, placing the mouthguard in the solution for 10 minutes, followed by rinsing and drying.
A mouthguard should last you 2-3 years before needing to change. This depends on the severity of your jaw clenching. If you notice a hole or crack in your mouthguard, notify your dentist and get a new one ordered!
Why should I worry about this?
Unfortunately, people have a common trait to treat an illness or health complication when it comes up, but not before it develops. With the case of teeth grinding, because it’s hard to identify by yourself, it is something that can easily be ignored until your dentist notices.
Occasional teeth grinding may not lead to any complications in the minor form. But, if you are consistently grinding your teeth out of habit, during the day, or even when you are asleep, you are bound to face complications. If not treated soon, you can develop headaches, jaw pain, damage to fillings or crowns, and potentially shave some height off your teeth. If you notice any symptoms stated above, contact your dentist. Something as easy to use and simple as a night-guard can save you future health complications and even save you money in the long run. Therefore, treating it early is very important.
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