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5 Facts You Should Know About Teeth Grinding

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7 Sep 2018 - General

If you wake up to a dull headache, feel chronic facial pain, earache or have other jaw-related issues, it is possible that you grind your teeth too much. In its severe forms bruxism or excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching can cause a lot of dental damage. If you have heard about this condition, here are some facts you might not have heard of so far.

It is quite common

Teeth grinding is estimated to be a part of children’s everyday routine in around 15% of cases, while millions of adults continue grinding their teeth in their later years. With an estimated 10% of the adult population grinding their teeth, it is one of the most common dental conditions. While most people are unaware of it, their grinding is quite obvious to people around them. Although quite common, it might be hard to notice sometimes and thus can cause a lot of dental problems. One of the most common problems is dental attrition, which is a type of tooth wear caused by excessive tooth-to-tooth contact. There are also other dental issues related to bruxism, like abfraction or loose teeth which should be checked for as well.

You can do it in your sleep without knowing

It is not rare for people who suffer from bruxism to wake their partners in the middle of the night. The sound of teeth grinding is similar to the sound of snoring – it won’t wake you up if you’re making it, but it will disturb the people around you. Around 80% or teeth grinding happens during sleep without the person knowing. This is also one of the most common reasons people with bruxism highlight as motivation for visiting the dentist’s office. So if the people living with you are having trouble sleeping because of some noise you know nothing about, maybe it’s because you’re making it.

It is genetically inherited

Over 50% of bruxism patients have a history of this disease in their family. The inheritance mechanism is not clearly understood, but this is one of the reasons you should know your family’s health history. If bruxism runs in the family, preventive checkups and prophylactic treatment can prevent further problems.

It is related to stress

Even if you weren’t grinding your teeth as a child, it is possible for you to get this habit later on in life because of stress. The image of an angry person grinding their teeth with steam coming out of their ears is not that incorrect. Grinding can be a consequence of piled up negative thoughts that are being released in the form of involuntary muscle activity. In order to prevent this, you can try meditation or mindfulness techniques for stress relief. All excessive negativity should be released both mentally and physically in a healthy way.

It’s treatable

Fortunately, there are ways to treat bruxism, and is recommended for you to do so. If bruxism is left untreated, you might end up with nerve damage, cracked teeth and intolerable TMJ pain for the long run. Discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be prevented with a simple solution – using a plastic mouth guard during sleep. Changing your sleeping position and atmosphere might help as well, along with reducing smoking and caffeine. Some other tips consider stress-avoiding techniques with jaw muscle relaxation. You should also avoid alcohol and chewy sweets. If none of the non-invasive techniques work, surgery is typically a last resort.

Teeth grinding can be accompanied with some other symptoms as well. You can wake up to a locked jaw due to jaw muscles straining. Your teeth can become overly sensitive. It can damage your tongue and salivary glands as well, causing inflammation and indentations. But, there might not be any excessive symptoms if your jaw is used to the daily grinding routine. This is why you should consider visiting the dentist for regular controls, not just when your teeth start hurting, because then it’s mostly too late.