Are your teeth wearing away through grinding?
The majority of the population has at least once in their life either consciously or subconsciously engaged in grinding and or clenching. However it is the excessive involvement in this activity which can cause irreversibly damage to the teeth and jaw joints. This condition is also known as bruxism.
There are a number of causes of bruxism including:
- Psychological and emotional stress – Eg. change of job, family situations, study and exams
- Physical stress – Eg. Sickness, diet related deficiencies
- An uneven bite due to high fillings, teeth that are out of alignment, unbalanced dental work
How do you know if you grind and clench?
Patients may experience these signs and symptoms associated with bruxism:
- Pain in the muscles of the face, especially upon waking
- Intense tension headaches and stiffness of the muscles of the face, jaws and neck
- Radiating pain in the teeth and jaws, and generalised sensitivity to hot and cold
- Limited opening of the jaw and associated pain when chewing
- Partners or relatives may notice a grinding noise when sleeping
- Flattened or worn surfaces on the teeth which may be sensitive
- Small fractures of the front teeth and associated jagged edges
- Teeth or fillings which seem to chip and break for no apparent reason
How is this treated?
It is difficult to stop grinding if it is associated with emotional or physical stress. Counselling and decreasing workloads may provide some limited relief from grinding habits. Also Physiotherapy can alleviate some concerns with the function of our jaws through treatment and an exercise program.
To prevent more damage to the teeth or TMJ (temporomandibular joint) from occurring splint therapy may be suggested as an option.
A splint is basically a hard plastic which is custom fabricated to fit on your upper jaw to prevent tooth to tooth contact during bruxism. Not only does it absorb the pressure placed on your jaw joints but also prevents any tooth contact during your sleep which stops loss of tooth structure.
There are a couple of splints which may be recommended and it would be best to speak with a qualified dentist to diagnose and suggest appropriate treatment.
Please do not hesitate to contact us on 3396 4094 to arrange an appointment if you require further information regarding grinding and clenching.