Are You Grinding Your Teeth? Here’s How to Know and How to Stop This Harmful Habit
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Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. They can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth.
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.
Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep. Learn more: Can a night guard straighten your teeth?
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.
Possible Remedies For Teeth Grinding.
Mouthguards are a kind of occlusal splint that may be helpful for sleep bruxism. They work by cushioning your teeth and stopping them from grinding against each other while you sleep.
Mouthguards can be custom-made at the dentist’s office or purchased over the counter (OTC).
If you have chronic sleep bruxism, custom-made mouthguards may help protect your teeth from damage. They may also reduce the strain on your jaw. Custom-made mouthguards are more expensive than OTC options, but may be a better choice for some people.
Custom-made mouthguards come in varying degrees of thickness. They’re fitted specifically to your jaw’s size and shape. They’re typically more comfortable than store-bought mouthguards as they’re made of softer material.
OTC nighttime mouthguards are typically made of plastic. For some people, these aren’t as comfortable as custom-made ones. When purchasing an OTC mouthguard, look for one that’s made of soft plastic or one that can be boiled to soften it.
OTC mouthguards may not be as effective for severe bruxism as custom-made types, but their low cost may make them an attractive and viable solution for people with minor teeth grinding.
Reductive coronoplasty is a dental procedure that may be used to reshape or level the biting surface of your teeth. It may be effective if your teeth grinding is caused by crowded, misaligned, or crooked teeth.
In some instances, a second procedure called additive coronoplasty may be used to build up the teeth. Your dentist can perform either procedure.
In a meta-analysis of four studies, researchers found evidence that injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) may reduce pain and the frequency of teeth grinding in otherwise healthy participants.
However, researchers who conducted a later study determined that more research is needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of using Botox for the treatment of teeth grinding.
Discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before beginning Botox injections to treat bruxism.
For this procedure, a medical professional will inject small amounts of Botox directly into the masseter. This is a large muscle that moves the jaw. Botox won’t cure bruxism, but it can help relax this muscle. Doing so may alleviate teeth grinding and related headaches.
The injections may need to be repeated. Benefits typically last for three to four months.
Biofeedback is a technique designed to help people become aware of and eliminate a behavior. It can be used to alleviate both sleep and awake bruxism.
During biofeedback, a biofeedback therapist will teach you how to control your jaw muscle movements through visual, vibratory, or auditory feedback generated from electromyography.
Research on the effectiveness of biofeedback for the treatment of bruxism is limited.
One review found evidence that there may be short-term benefits when done with contingent electrical stimulation. More research is needed to understand the long-term benefits and effectiveness with other biofeedback methods.
For some people, teeth grinding may be linked to mental health issues like stress, depression, and anxiety. More research is needed to link bruxism to these conditions, though.
If you grind your teeth, stress-reduction techniques may help in some cases. Stress reduction can also benefit your overall health, so it’s a low-risk remedy.
Here are some stress-reduction techniques to try:
Meditation may help reduce stress and alleviate anxiety, pain, and depression.
Try downloading a meditation app or joining a meditation group. Meditation takes practice. It may be best used in conjunction with other treatments, too. Find out which type of meditation is best for you.
A small study of 20 participants reported a significant reduction in mild to moderate depression following yoga practice. Participants did two 90-minute Hatha yoga sessions each week for eight weeks. More large-scale studies are needed to understand yoga’s effects on depression, though.
Interested in yoga? Read our definitive guide to yoga to get started.
Talking to a therapist, counselor, or trusted friend may help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. If your stress is affecting your daily life, a psychiatrist may also prescribe medications to help reduce stress and anxiety, if needed.
Exercise also reduces stress by producing feel-good endorphins.
Thank you for reading this article, and check back frequently for other dental health articles. Should you have any questions, please contact Apple Tree Dental today!
Article compiled by Apple Tree Dental
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