A common habit in both adults and children, teeth grinding, or bruxism, is typically harmless if done occasionally.
However, bruxism that occurs on a regular basis doesn’t just wear down teeth, it can also result in headaches and other oral health complications.
What causes bruxism?
Previously, dentists were trained to think that grinding issues were just stress-related, and the only fix was to wear a night-guard for the rest of your life. However, recent research shows that bruxism can also be caused by sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or even smoking, alcohol consumption or recreational drug use.
Does bruxism cause damage?
Some patients report feeling a soreness in their jaws and gums. But, in more chronic cases, bruxism can cause teeth to fracture, wear down to the stumps or fall out entirely, or even change your facial appearance.
What are some of the symptoms?
Common symptoms include teeth grinding or clenching that is loud enough to wake you up; tired, sore or tight jaw muscles; increased tooth sensitivity and dull headaches in your temple.
Can bruxism be treated?
Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth, but depending on the individual circumstances, oral appliances, medication or surgery may be required. If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit. Should stress be the root cause of your bruxism, consider seeing a counsellor, starting an exercise programme or engaging in activities that can help ease your stress.
From The Finder (Issue 293), June 2018
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