No Glee in Teeth Grinding
Do you ever wake up from a night's sleep with sore teeth and jaws? You could be grinding your teeth. Grinding your teeth is known as bruxism. This rhythmic clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth may develop at any age. Teeth grinding is usually done unconsciously in your sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake. During the day, a person who is concentrating on a task will often place his teeth together and apply force through a contraction of the jaw muscles. This is commonly associated with the daytime tasks of lifting heavy objects, driving, reading and writing. During sleep, it presents as clenching and rhythmic contractions.
Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you're awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism). Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth (brux) during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea). Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems. Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it's important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.
Symptoms of teeth grinding include:
-Pain and stiffness in the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and surrounding muscles, which can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
-Disrupted sleep (for you or your partner)
-Worn-down teeth, which can lead to increased sensitivity and even tooth loss
-Broken teeth or fillings
-Facial pain and headaches often disappear when you stop grinding your teeth. Tooth damage usually only occurs in severe cases and may need treatment.
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or 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. Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep. If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered. If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit.
The problem of teeth grinding is not limited to adults. Approximately 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth. Children who grind their teeth tend to do so at two peak times -- when their baby teeth emerge and when their permanent teeth come in. Most children lose the teeth grinding habit after these two sets of teeth have come in more fully. Most commonly, children grind their teeth during sleep rather than during waking hours. No one knows exactly why children grind their teeth but considerations include improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, illnesses and other medical conditions (such as nutritional deficiencies, pinworm, allergies, endocrine disorders), and psychological factors including anxiety and stress. Grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems. However, teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, headaches, wear on the teeth, and TMD. Consult your dentist if your child's teeth look worn or if your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain.