Occasional teeth grinding is not a cause for concern. However, grinding on a regular basis should not be brushed off, as it can lead to long term effects both orally and elsewhere in the body.
Teeth grinding symptoms range from being very minor and slightly inconvenient to requiring extensive dental work. Continuous grinding can result in worn down teeth, a sore jaw, headaches, earaches, chronic mouth pain, fractured teeth, sensitive teeth, and aggravated joints in the jaw. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your dentist for an appointment right away before the condition worsens.
Anxiety and stress are both major contributors to teeth grinding. When people are in stressful situations, they tend to become restless and perform involuntary, repetitive motions, or tics, in order to reduce tension. A common nervous tic is teeth grinding. Finding ways to reduce stress by seeking out therapy, meditating, or exercising may help to quell a bad bruxism habit.
Orthodontic issues such as crooked teeth or an abnormal bite can also give rise to teeth grinding. Your dentist may recommend braces or other orthodontic measures to help fix these issues.
Another potential cause of bruxism is the frequent consumption of caffeine, which can produce muscle activity, especially at night. Sleep apnea can also cause nocturnal bruxism, by triggering the throat muscles to relax and obstructing the airway, thus making it difficult to breathe properly. Changes to your everyday way of life, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, can help to reduce sleep apnea.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure devices, or CPAP machines, are often prescribed for those with moderate to severe sleep apnea issues. CPAP machines work by fitting a mask over the nose and forcing oxygen through it to keep the airway passages open while you sleep. CPAP machines are shown to significantly reduce the effects of sleep apnea and help most bruxism cases to diminish.
Unfortunately, teeth grinding is not entirely curable. However, it can be managed with the right resources. Some easy fixes to reduce bruxism include: drinking more water; relaxing your jaw throughout the day; limiting chewing gum; and avoiding alcohol and caffeine consumption. If these changes do not provide enough relief, your dentist may recommend having you fitted for a mouth guard.
Don’t spend your days grinding your teeth away! If you are experiencing bruxism symptoms, please call us for a consultation.
“Dental Health and Teeth Grinding (Bruxism).” WebMD, WebMD, 2017
“How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth (Bruxism).” AZ Family Dental
“The Effects of Teeth Grinding (Bruxism).” Farhoumand Dentistry, 12 Aug. 2016
“5 Facts You Won't Believe About Bruxism.” Ora-Guard® Dental Guard, Ora-Guard, 18 July 2016
“6 Things You Should Know about Teeth Grinding.” Best Health Magazine Canada, Readers Digest Magazine, 24 Feb. 2016