Teeth Grinding / Bruxism

Bruxism is excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth that is not part of chewing movements. It can lead to excessive wear on the teeth and may cause permanent damage to the teeth and the jaw joints.

Excessive grinding and clenching of the teeth can occur during the day or at night. During sleep, you have no conscious control over this excessive clenching and grinding.

There are many causes of bruxism, these include:

  • physical stress such as illness, nutritional deficiencies or dehydration, particularly in children
  • psychological stress, anxiety and tension in adults and children
  • night bruxism is a sleep disorder
  • other abnormal anatomy of the teeth or jaws (including "high spots" on fillings) that can cause an improper occlusion (also called "bite") and lead to bruxism behaviour.

There are numerous symptoms of bruxism, these include:

  • pain in the teeth and sensitivity to heat and cold
  • chronic facial pain with tension headaches, caused by intense muscle contraction
  • the noise, noticed by partners, friends or relatives, that occurs as teeth are ground together
  • flattened and worn tooth surfaces, which may reveal the underlying yellow dentine layer
  • micro-fractures of the tooth enamel
  • broken or chipped teeth
  • loose teeth
  • stiffness and pain in the jaw

Treatment of bruxism

An occlusal splint is an option for someone with mild to severe grinding behaviour. Worn at night, the splint is made from moulded hard plastic that fits over the upper or lower teeth. It prevents further wear of the tooth surfaces.

Stress management, counselling or relaxation methods for stress-related causes of bruxism are also an option.

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