Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a condition where the person affected clenches their teeth (especially at night) but it has no association with chewing whatsoever.
The condition can develop in both children and adults and is a result of the lateral jaw being thrust forward in a manner that results in teeth rubbing or grinding together.
On the surface, it may seem like teeth grinding is a fairly harmless habit. However, if left unchecked and allowed to continue over time, then it could have some very serious repercussions.
The constant grinding of your teeth can destroy enamel, wear down teeth, damage your jaws and even cause constant (sometimes debilitating) stress headaches that emanate from your jaw.
Like many other habits, grinding your teeth can be incredibly hard to stop and sometimes - especially if it’s part of a sleep condition like 'apnea' - it can seem almost impossible.
Luckily, however, dentists and other professionals have picked up on the best ways to stop teeth grinding for good:
1. Correct teeth and mouth misalignment
Misaligned teeth or bite may be the cause your bruxism but these conditions can be rectified with dental procedures. Your dentist my fit you with invisalign braces or 6 month braces, whichever you decide, to fix teeth that are misaligned or a bite pattern that is incorrect. If the symptoms have gotten to the point that it wears down your teeth, then you may need some reconstruction work too.
2. Cosmetic injections
Although these types of injections may be associated with cosmetic procedures, did you know that they can also greatly reduce the power of the muscle which results in teeth grinding.
Don't worry, they won't affect the way you look or how your face feels but they will help to relax the jaw muscle.
You should ask your dentist for more on this type of treatment.
3. Reduce stress
One of the most common causes of teeth grinding is an abnormally high level of stress encountered in everyday life.
Since more than half of teeth grinding cases are due to stress retention, there’s a high chance that if you deal with the stress then you can alleviate the symptoms associated with teeth grinding.
In order to get rid of your stress, you are going to have to pinpoint its source. Is it work? School? Home? Finances?
Once you have identified the problem you can then start attending therapy, or simply talk to a family member or friend.
4. Guards and splints
If you have a severe case of teeth grinding, then it’s likely that your dentist will prescribe the use of a mouth guard or splint.
While this doesn’t treat the root cause of your grinding, or in fact stop it, it does help to protect your teeth and gums and redistributes the force evenly.
You can buy a mouth guard over the counter in a chemist, but getting one custom made by your dentist is the best option.
5. Avoid stimulants
Try and avoid any stimulants, and if you can’t then at least try to avoid them after dinner.
Coffee, alcohol, soda and sugar are all stimulants that could cause you to grind your teeth at night while you sleep.
6. Exercise, acupuncture and muscle relaxants
If all else fails then you may have to go down the route of muscle relaxants - whether they are herbal or from the chemist.
Acupuncture can also take some of the pressure out of your jaw or even jaw exercises can help strengthen the right areas and get out of the habit of grinding.