You probably know how bothersome it is to hear someone snoring, but have you ever experienced someone grinding their teeth? It’s like nails on a chalkboard. Believe it or not, this is just as common as snoring.
Many people who suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding) are unaware of the problem or don’t even know that there are ways to fix it. To better understand teeth grinding, some common questions need to be answered.
What are the causes of bruxism?
There currently is no known cause of teeth grinding; however, there is a link to the central nervous system. Anxiety or stress seem to be the most frequent causes among adults. As for children, about 15-33 percent grind, which may begin as early as teething, carrying into the developmental stages of the jaws and teeth. Prescription anti-depressants have been linked to causing grinding as well.
What should I look for to determine if I have it?
Most cases are mild enough to not cause any discomfort in the person. However, symptoms tend to vary based on the length of time of grinding and its frequency. Some red flags include insomnia, morning migraines, fractured or sensitive teeth, unusual wear of teeth, breakdown of restorations and earaches.
Are there any complications that may appear if it goes untreated?
If untreated, teeth can break or you may experience chronic headaches and facial pain from the tension building in the jaw. This tension can also lead to a more severe outcome, TMJ. This is a condition that causes pain in and around the jaw area, which can ultimately affect the way you use your mouth (chewing, swallowing, speaking, etc.).
What types of treatments are out there?
There are treatments available within dentistry to ease or possibly eliminate teeth grinding. Splints and mouth guards are the most common and can be made by your dentist. As an alternative to a dental approach, medications also have a positive effect on teeth grinding. Muscle relaxers have been found to help loosen the jaw line. Anti-inflammatory medications, a soft diet, consistent hydration and the elimination of caffeine are recommended as well. Recently, Botox has been used to inject into the facial muscles and can relieve pain and headaches.
Grinding and clenching are real, and can contribute to significant tooth loss. Consider investing in a custom preventive orthotic mouthpiece to avoid the cost of replacing a tooth.
Dr. Dina J. Giesler, D.D.S., M.A.G.D. & Associates
4405 Northside Pkwy., Ste. 110
Atlanta, GA 30327