Teeth Grinding

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is teeth grinding, it describes a range of related behaviours including teeth grinding, gnashing and clenching of the jaw. Bruxism is usually a subconscious behaviour performed during sleep. It’s a habit that affects around 8-10% of the population. Bruxism occurs in both children and adults but is most common in 25-44-year-olds. However, most people grind and/or clench their teeth occasionally to a certain degree.

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How can a dentist control teeth grinding?

Occlusal splints (also known as an occlusal bite guards, bruxism appliances, bite plates, or night guards) are made of harder plastic and have been found to be the most successful as they protect the teeth from premature wear, reduce jaw muscle activity and the noise of teeth grinding. This means that the user need not worry about ruining their teeth.

MADs (Mandibular Advancement Devices) MADs are generally used for the management of snoring and sleep apnoea. These are also custom made, specially fitted appliances and usually fit over your top and bottom teeth, and typically bring your bottom jaw (mandible) forward. These devices are used when a sleep disorder is a probable cause of grinding. The device is used to help manage to snore and sleep apnea. When grinding your teeth is caused by sleep apnoea, this is the preferred treatment.

It must be acknowledged that these devices, will not cure the condition.

Why are teeth grinding harmful?

In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening or even loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures and even complete dentures may be needed.

Signs that a patient could be suffering from teeth grinding or bruxism

Your dentist will check for signs of bruxism during a routine examination, however, here are the signs and symptoms of bruxism which may include:

What are the causes of Bruxism?

Sleeping Disorders

It is known that bruxism rarely occurs alone. Research has consistently found that bruxism is found more frequently in those individuals who have an existing sleep disorder such as snoring, breathing pauses during sleep and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

Lifestyle Factors

Demographic and lifestyle factors such as young age, higher educational status, smoking, caffeine intake and heavy alcohol consumption are associated co-factors of bruxism. The use of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, or medications for sleep, depression, and anxiety increases arousal and leads to problems falling asleep, staying asleep and daytime sleepiness.

Stress, Anxiety

Anxiety and stress are significantly related to tooth grinding during sleep and it has been found that nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of stress or anxiety. It is well documented that job-related stress is detrimental to good sleep and as a consequence can be responsible for daytime sleepiness. But, it is also the most significant factor associated with bruxism.

Visit the Bruxism Association for more information and advice

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