Bruxism is usually referred to as teeth grinding. People grind their teeth for different reasons. Some do it when they’re sleeping; others do it when they’re concentrating or stressed. Chronic teeth grinding can cause pain to be radiated into the surrounding TMJ area, or cause headaches, earaches, and muscle pain in the neck and shoulders.
Over time the constant grinding of teeth will also changed the way your teeth function and how they bite together. Chronic grinding causes tooth enamel to wear quickly, creating flat, misshapen teeth that do not fit properly against the teeth in the opposite arch. Worn teeth are usually only repaired with crowns, but even these can wear down if the grinding continues.
Alleviating anything that is causing additional stress in your life may improve the frequency of grinding. However, this may be difficult to do. In the meantime the use of a bite splint or mouth guard can prevent the teeth from wearing against one another as well as reducing the muscle strain in the TMJ caused by excessive clenching of the joint. There are various types of mouth guards available, some ideally used during sleep and others in the day, which allow you to continue with your normal work routine.
Many parents exhibit concern over their young children also exhibiting signs of tooth grinding. Severe grinding in small children is very rare, and most grinding in this age group is fairly normal. It may simply be part of nature’s way of allowing the baby teeth to exfoliate and make room for the developing permanent teeth.
If grinding is keeping your spouse awake at night, or causing you headaches or muscle pain during the day, you may benefit from the use of an oral splint.
Posted on behalf of Springhill Dental Health Center
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