The agitating daily routine we go through stresses us out of our senses and affects the relapses and reflexes of the body. Teeth grinding is the main change that we go through because of stress. Insomnia and tensed muscles often cause teeth grinding habit among people and it can grow into a nuisance if not kept in check. Sometimes, it becomes the natural response of the body towards stress. Grinding of teeth is called bruxism in dentistry and has numerous side-effects on the dental health of a person.
What Causes Grinding of the Teeth?
The most common cause of grinding teeth or bruxism is the everyday stress that people go through. Anxiety, depression, agitation, confusion or tension can also cause grinding of teeth. Grinding of teeth occurs during sleep due to insomnia, unfavorable dream patterns, or simply muscle memory of the jaw muscles. Use of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol or any recreational drugs can increase grinding of the teeth and can damage their structure. Bruxism or the teeth grinding habit can be caused by many factors and leads to complex dental problems. Some psychiatric drugs or anti-depressants can lead to grinding of teeth as a side effect. The grinding habit can also be inherited by a child. In fact, children are more commonly affected by bruxism than adults.
How Can Grinding of Teeth Be a Risk for Your Dental Health?
Teeth generally go through wear and tear every day as we chew our food. But teeth grinding applies extra pressure on the crown of your teeth and leads to faster wearing. Grinding of teeth can even cause fractures in your teeth. Over a period of time, teeth grinding makes it harder for teeth to repair themselves as they are always being worn down by the pressure applied throughout the day and during sleep. A fracture or chipping off of the tooth destroys the layer of enamel and crown, exposing the nerve tissues and pulp to the open attack of harmful bacteria. This makes it easier for the tooth to be affected by pathogens and decay. A decay at this position of the tooth can easily affect the nerves and damage them, distributing the decay to the rest of the teeth. It also affects the jaw bone and leads to its decay and it can prevent you from using a dental implant or any other restorative devices.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)
The most possible threat or disease arising from grinding of teeth or bruxism is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction or TMJ dysfunction. TMJ dysfunction is a disease in which the grinding of the teeth affects the joint that connects our lower jaw with the skull. The joint poses a cushion like a disc of soft tissue that facilitates the smooth functioning of the jaws and helps us chew the food or bite efficiently. Bruxism can affect this disc and wear it off causing pain in the movement of the jaw while eating or talking. The jaw might even get locked at certain times and cause a lot of difficulties for the patient.
How Can You Know If You Have Bruxism and How Can It Be Treated?
People with hypertension or problems with blood pressure are the ones who are most affected by teeth grinding. Acid reflux in the stomach can also lead to grinding of teeth. Symptoms of bruxism or teeth grinding are generally obvious. If a child suffers from epilepsy or night terrors, you should check if they grind their teeth while asleep. People with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea are generally prone to teeth grinding. If the sound of friction between your teeth while you’re asleep wakes up the person sleeping near you, you can confirm the symptoms of bruxism. Observe your teeth – if they are flattened or you see a chipped tooth, it is because of the teeth grinding habit. If you can see the nerves, it means you need immediate dental assistance. Bruxism can cause pain in the ear, jaws, tooth, and neck. The effect of the pressure on the temporomandibular joint can cause this pain and you must go see the dentist at once if you hear a clicking sound in your jaw when you open it or chew something. A dentist can provide you with solutions for minimizing the harms from this habit. Mouth guards are recommended to people who have a problem sleeping and grind their teeth in their sleep. Avoid anything that contains caffeine like coffee, colas, chocolate. Talk to your physical therapist and get a muscle relaxant medication to prevent tension in the muscles and avoid grinding of teeth.
If you suspect you have teeth grinding habit or sense any problems in movement of your jaw, visit the dental team at College Plaza Dental and our dentist shall check the damage and recommend treatment accordingly.