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Teeth Grinding and clenching

Bruxism is the involuntary clenching, grinding and gnashing of the teeth. Up to 90% of people grind, but only 20% of those are aware that they are doing it. Usually, a person doesn’t realise that they grind their teeth in their sleep. The partner who shares their bedroom (and hears the grinding noises at night) is often the first to notice the problem. Parents may also hear it in their sleeping children.

Causes of grinding

  • stress
  • over-concentration/tension
  • sleep apnoea or poor breathing at night
  • certain drug-taking

Symptoms of teeth grinding

  • grinding sounds while the person is asleep 
  • headache, jaw joint and/or ear pain
  • aching teeth, particularly just after waking up 
  • aching and/or stiffness of the face and temples just after waking up
  • aching or stiffness in the jaws while chewing, particularly during breakfast 
  • clenching the jaw when angry, anxious or concentrating 
  • temperature-sensitive teeth 
  • cracked or chipped tooth enamel 
  • tooth indentations on the tongue 
  • raised tissue on the inside of the cheek caused by biting

Effects of teeth grinding

  • cracked tooth enamel 
  • more wear and tear on the teeth than is normal
  • broken teeth, fillings
  • strain on the jaw joint (TMJ) 
  • pain in the jaw joint or limited movement
  • sore jaw muscles
  • teeth being more sensitive to hot and cold things

Treatment for teeth grinding

  • repair of tooth damage 
  • Night splint (a type of mouthguard) to wear at night so that the guard is worn down instead of your teeth. In most cases, a bite splint will only help with the symptoms and will not stop you from grinding altogether.
  • stress management therapy 
  • relaxation techniques (especially before bedtime)
  • medication that relaxes the muscles

Please consult with your dentist to assess possible bruxing, its effects on your mouth and appropriate treatment.