Bruxism is the excessive grinding of the teeth and/or clenching of the jaw. It is usually related to stress and most often done unconsciously while asleep, but sometimes also while awake during the day. It can also be caused by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked.
The signs and symptoms of bruxism are
- dull headaches
- jaw soreness
- excessive tooth wear i.e attrition
- painful or loose teeth
- fractured teeth
- hypersensitive teeth
- grinding or taping noise while asleep usually detected by a parent or a partner
- cheek or lip biting
- indentations of the teeth on the tongue
- trismus i.e difficulty in mouth opening
- clicking of the jaw joint
- untreated migraine headaches which typically appear soon after waking in the morning
Your dentist will do a thorough exam to check for all the signs and symptoms to make sure you are indeed a bruxer. A night guard fitted by the dentist can be worn every night to reduce the damage to the teeth. Sometime muscle relaxants may be prescribed before bed time. If the grinding is stress related, you need to find a way to relax. Meditation, yoga, counselling and exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Teeth grinding is also common in children. However, because their teeth and jaws change and grow so quickly it is not usually a damaging habit that requires treatment and most outgrow it by adolescence.
Reasons for teeth grinding in children are
- irritation in the mouth
- misaligned teeth