Are your teeth starting to look shorter? Do they feel worn down? Do you wake up with a sore jaw?
If you answered yes to either of those then this article is for you. Grinding or clenching your teeth is also known as bruxism and it is more common than you think! It is present in approximately 20% of the population.
Teeth grinding or teeth clenching is important to be aware of, whether it happens at work when you are stressed (awake bruxism) or at night when you are dreaming away (sleep bruxism).
Possible Causes of Teeth Grinding:
1. Genetics- does it run in your family?
2. Stress and Anxiety- It does seem like stress and bruxism go hand in hand. When we are stressed, we hold a lot of tension in our neck and jaw muscles. Studies have found that when bruxism is related to stress, it’s the kind that happens during the day. Do you notice yourself clenching while cramming for exams? Take a deep breath and relax your lower jaw.
3. Airway issues such as sleep apnoea and snoring- Addressing and treating the underlying airway issue is crucial to a well-rested sleep and ensuring your brain is getting enough oxygen. Talk to your dentist or general health practitioner if you are concerned that you may have sleep apnoea.
4. Medication- It has been shown that antipsychotics and antidepressants (SSRIs) are associated with bruxism. It is a possible adverse reaction to these medications and can occur a few weeks after starting the drug and can take a few weeks to stop occurring after cessation of the drug. Do not stop any medications without consulting your doctor.
Why is it an issue?
The large forces created by clenching can cause cracks and/or fractures on your teeth, fillings, or crowns. This can lead to sharp or rough edges, pain and sensitivity if left untreated. When teeth are worn down the second layer of the tooth, dentine, is exposed. Dentine wears down faster than the outer enamel so the teeth will continue to wear with grinding and your teeth may become more sensitive to cold. Headaches and pain can also be a consequence of bruxism.
Management of Teeth Grinding
At present, there is no cure to teeth grinding or teeth clenching. We can manage it by protecting the teeth and preventing further cracks from forming. An occlusal splint or teeth grinding splint can be made to wear at night. While you will still grind your teeth, the splint will physically separate the teeth from touching each other and you will wear down the splint material instead. What’s the catch? You have to wear it every night!
The thickness of the splint can help with jaw disorders (TMD) as well by causing the joint to separate and relieve the pressure on the joint. Some people experience soreness in their jaw from grinding, moist heat packs and gentle exercises can help alleviate this pain.
If you have already worn down your pearly whites, then fillings and/or crowns may be indicated.
Prevention is key! If you are concerned that you may clench or grind your teeth, come in and see us for a consult.
Article by Coolum Beach Dentist, Dr Saba Ghahari
1. Demjaha, G., Kapusevska, B., & Pejkovska-Shahpaska, B. (2019). Bruxism Unconscious Oral Habit in Everyday Life. Open Access Macedonian Journal Of Medical Sciences, 7(5), 876-881. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2019.196
2. Behr, M., Hahnel, S., Faltermeier, A., Bürgers, R., Kolbeck, C., Handel, G., & Proff, P. (2012). The two main theories on dental bruxism. Annals Of Anatomy – Anatomischer Anzeiger, 194(2), 216-219. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2011.09.002
3. Teoh, L., Moses, G., Duma, S., & Fung, V. (2019). Letters to the Editor: Drug-induced bruxism. Australian Prescriber, 42(4), 120. doi: 10.18773/austprescr.2019.048