What is Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)?

Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of your teeth together. It affects more people than you may think! Approximately 30-40 million people in the North America alone have been diagnosed with this condition. In most cases, it is done at night and is involuntary.

Why Does It Happen???

There are multiple factors that contribute to the cause of grinding and/or clenching of the teeth:

  • Stress
  • Problems with the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
  • Misalignment of the teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease or Huntington’s Disease
  • Certain medications

How Is It Diagnosed?

There are several ways for a dental professional to diagnose if someone is grinding. Some of the common signs are:

  • Tooth wear
  • Broken or fractured teeth/ dental fillings
  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw joint or muscle
  • Tooth sensitivity due to exposed dentin
  • A grinding sound at night, which may be heard by another person
  • Radiographs (x-rays) may be taken to view teeth better as well as the TMJ

Children can also grind their teeth at night. 20-30% of children under the age of 11 grind their teeth. This is normally due to when teeth are erupting and stress. Most children grow out of this eventually and most stop up to the age of 13. If you feel that your child may be grinding, please consult your dental professional for an examination and more information.

Treatment

If you have broken or fractured teeth, your dentist will provide the proper restorative treatment. From there, he/she will recommend an appliance to wear at night called a night guard. This appliance can be made of a hard or softer acrylic and can be worn on either the upper or lower teeth, which allows for shock absorption of the TMJ and protection of the teeth from further breakage.

Other treatments may include, depending on the case:

  • Stress management
  • Changes in certain medications (if taking) by your doctor
  • Avoiding or reducing your caffeine intake
  • Reducing alcohol consumption (known to amplify grinding)
  • Avoid chewing on pens and pencils
  • Moist heat therapy; warm moist cloth held on cheek in front of ear on each side to relax TMJ muscles

For more information, or if you think you may be grinding or clenching, please make an appointment to see your dentist or dental hygienist so that they may do a thorough examination and provide the best treatment for you.

Photos are actual patient whom had fractured a tooth due to excessive teeth grinding. Prognosis was poor and treatment was extraction.

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