Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
Bruxism is the medical name for teeth grinding. Although bruxism can be caused by anxiety and stress, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.
How Do I find out if I have bruxism?
Because bruxism often happens during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaws are symptoms of bruxism.
Many persons get to know from their bed partners that they grind their teeth in the night. If you know that you are grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. The dentist examines your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.
How serious is Bruxism?
Some persons have events that occur less than nightly with no indication of dental injury or harm of psychosocial functioning. And others experience nightly events with indication of mild impairment of psychosocial functioning.
Some others have nightly events with indication of dental injury, tempomandibular (jaw) disorders, other physical injury or moderate or severe impairment of psychosocial functioning.
What are the Risk factors of Bruxism?
The factors that increase your risk of bruxism are
- Tobacco, cocaine, caffeine or amphetamines seems to increase the risk
- Increased stress, anger, frustration and anxiety can also lead to teeth grinding
- Bruxism is common in young children but generally goes away by age 9. In adults, the condition is common in 40s. It tends to decrease with older age.
Is Bruxism Ever a Problem in Children?
The problem of bruxism is not restricted to adults. Approximately 15 to 30 percent of children grind their teeth. Children normally grind their teeth when their baby teeth emerge and when their permanent teeth come in. Most children lose the bruxism habit after they get permanent teeth.
Mostly children grind their teeth during sleep rather than during waking hours. The possible reasons for children grinding their teeth is improperly aligned teeth or uneven contact between upper and lower teeth, illnesses, other medical conditions and psychological factors including stress and anxiety.
Grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems. However, bruxism can cause headaches, jaw pain, wear on the teeth and temporomandibular joint disease. Consult your dentist if your child's teeth look worn or if your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain.
Tips to help a child stop teeth grinding:
- Try massage and stretching exercises to relax the muscles.
- Reduce your child's stress, especially just before bed.
- Include plenty of water in your child’s diet because dehydration may be related to teeth grinding.
When to seek medical advice?
Because bruxism often goes unnoticed, be attentive of its signs and symptoms. See your physician or dentist if you have damaged teeth or pain in your jaw, face or ear. Also consult your dentist if your bed partner complains that you make a grinding noise while you sleep.
If you observe that your child is grinding his or her teeth, or has other signs or symptoms of this condition, be sure to consult the doctor.
What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?
1. Your dentist fits a mouth guard to protect your teeth during sleep.
2. Ask your dentist about options to reduce the stress, if it is causing you to grind your teeth. Do some exercises which reduces stress and get relaxation.
Other tips to stop bruxism include:
1. Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
2. Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. Position the tip of your tongue between your teeth to avoid grinding the teeth.
3. Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm cloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
4. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth. Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food.