What is teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding is a condition whereby one excessively grinds or clenches their teeth. Typically grinding and clenching occurs mostly when sleeping but some individuals may grind and clench during the day also. Teeth grinding is also referred to as bruxism.

What are the dangers of teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding can create numerous problems such as local muscular pain, headaches, loss of tooth structure, gum recession, loose teeth, shortening of teeth, tooth sensitivity, cracked and broken teeth, damage to the bone structure of the jaw joint with temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ syndrome), and even facial changes. Children that grind due to a breathing airway problem can have developmental issues.

What causes teeth grinding?

The exact cause of teeth grinding is not totally understood and there are numerous different theories. However, there is a link to breathing airway issues, such as sleep apnea, jaw posture positions, tooth position, dental work that has changed jaw position or tooth positions, abnormal bite, trauma, repetitive strain, lifestyle activities, as well as emotional and developmental issues.

Who is at risk for teeth grinding?

Anyone that has teeth can potentially grind their teeth. Anyone from small toddlers to the elderly and everyone in between can grind their teeth.

What are symptoms and signs of teeth grinding?

Symptoms of teeth grinding include headaches, muscle pain, jaw tenderness, shortened teeth, gum recession, notches or indentations on the gum line of teeth, tooth sensitivity, cracked and broken teeth, and temporomandibular joint syndrome.

What is the treatment for teeth grinding?

A sleep study is recommended to rule out an airway issue because grinding occurs mostly at night while sleeping. If a poor airway is a contributing factor then treatment can be offered for the airway first and sometimes the teeth grinding will cease. Every situation of teeth grinding is managed uniquely, but often a mouth guard fitted by a dentist is helpful. The mouth guard is worn when sleeping to protect the teeth from grinding. Dietary changes, postural modifications, emotional therapy, medications, injections, tooth adjustments and dental work, orthodontics, surgery, are various treatments used.

What is the prognosis for teeth grinding?

The prognosis for teeth grinding can very good, especially if the underlying cause can be determined. If it cannot, then at least wearing a properly fitting mouth guard can protect the teeth from further damage and often lessen the effects on the bone, muscle, and tissues. Babies and toddlers grinding their teeth should always have an airway evaluation.

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