Teeth grinding also known as bruxism, is the clenching together of the bottom and upper jaw accompanied by the grinding of the lower set of teeth with the upper set.
Teeth grinding affects between 10-50% of the population depending on the particular study sited.
Teeth grinding is a unconscious behavior so many people do not realize that they are doing it. Often it is the partner who tells them about the nighttime sounds that their teeth grinding produces.
Although it can occur during the waking hours, teeth grinding most frequently occur while we sleep. During sleep, the biting force can be up to six times greater than the pressure during waking hours.
Consequently, significant damage is much more likely to occur with this nighttime teeth grinding.
People who grind their teeth, whether or not they have jaw or tooth problems, were more likely to snore loudly and have sleep apnea, a dangerous condition in which the sleeper stops breathing for periods of time
Causes Of Teeth Grinding
Grinding your teeth at night can cause a number of problems, such as seriously wearing down your teeth, loosening the teeth, gum reduction, jaw joint problems, and may be a cause of headaches during the day.
You may not recognize you are grinding your teeth unless somebody sleeping with you notices it. Otherwise you may notice symptoms to alert you to the problem, such as headaches, aching jaw muscles, loose teeth or gum problems.
One of the causes is a deficiency in pantothenic acid (one of the B-vitamins) and calcium. Pantothenic acid, an anti-stress vitamin, reduces the production of certain hormones from the adrenal glands. Lack of pantothenic acid is a factor in the control of motor activity; teeth grinding is the sign that motor activity is not under control.
A calcium deficiency causes muscle cramps or involuntary movement of muscles in the mouth resulting in grinding of the teeth. Chew a few calcium or bone meal tablets before bedtime. This remedy seems to reduce contractions of the jaw muscles.
A magnesium deficiency may be another cause. A deficiency can cause spasming, and seems to affect people at night. Leg cramps and teeth grinding are just two ways a magnesium deficiency manifests itself at night.
Another possible cause of teeth grinding is parasites. Pinworms, a common parasite, can cause teeth grinding. A large percentage of the population has some form of parasitic infestation, so have a stool analysis test to determine if you have parasites. Then try an herbal parasite cleanse, not a drug remedy.
Teeth Grinding Consequences
Teeth grinding can lead to pain and cause damage to gums and other oral structures. This includes:
Teeth grinding can cause the teeth to be ground down becoming significantly shortened and creating cosmetic damage.
Sore Facial Muscles, Headaches, and Earaches
The muscles used to chew food are the same ones responsible for teeth grinding. Consequently, these muscles often feel sore or tender in the morning.
This may make the jaw feel tight or may cause pain when the sides of the mouth are touched. Often this muscle pain is referred meaning that it manifests itself as a headache, earache, or neck pain.
Fractured Teeth and Fillings
The high pressure created from teeth grinding can fracture teeth and crack fillings.
Temporomandibular Joint Damage
Teeth grinding can cause damage to the temporomandibular joint. This is the "hinge" which connects the lower jaw to the upper jaw allowing use to chew and talk.
As the enamel of the tooth is worn away by teeth grinding the underlying dentin layer of the tooth is exposed. This causes the tooth to become sensitive to cold, pressure, and other stimuli.
To eliminate your teeth grinding problem here are several suggestions:
- Try taking a warm bath before bedtime
- Drink less alcohol. Your dentist will be able to assess the extent of tooth damage caused by this problem.
The dentist may recommend a custom-fitted mouth guard (expensive) to be worn while you sleep. If the problem persists, consider cognitive behavioral therapy.