Many people grind their teeth sometimes. But some people grind/clench their teeth most of the time causing great harm to their teeth and jaw.
Causes of tooth grinding
- The main cause of teeth grinding is anxiety or stress.
- Abnormal bite and misaligned crooked teeth may be the reason behind teeth grinding.
- In some cases, sleep disorders are a risk factor too.
Tooth grinding and headaches
As we mentioned earlier, teeth grinding happens more often while you are sleeping. Meaning that you are unaware of it. But if you wake up with severe dull headache or a tender jaw this means you grind your teeth while sleeping. But the main complaint of headache usually comes from your sleeping partner (like snoring) your partner is the one who suffers the most. Either way, you have to visit your dentist to determine the depth of the problem for signs of bruxism like jaw tenderness, locked jaw and excess flattening/wearing down of your teeth.
Complications of tooth grinding
Chronic teeth grinding for months or years may lead to teeth fractures, teeth loosening and finally teeth loss. Also, chronic grinding leads to wearing down the teeth into small stumps making the need for bridges/crowns/implants mandatory. Your jaws may suffer too; teeth grinding may lead to temporomandibular joint disorders that affects your chewing and even your appearance.
Treatment of tooth grinding
The first step for treatment is diagnosis. Your dentist after proper medical history and thorough examination can detect teeth grinding and any related complications. First line of treatment is using a mouth guard that protects your teeth while sleeping. Then according to the case, he/she will determine the second line of treatment. For example, if the cause of bruxism is stress then your dentist will advise to visit a fellow psychiatrist to reduce your stress level through stress counseling, exercise programs and prescription of muscle relaxants. If the cause is a sleeping disorder then visiting a sleep clinic, diagnosing and treating the cause of the sleeping disorder is the best treatment.
Tips to help you stop tooth grinding
- Caffeine filled food and beverages like colas, chocolate. Coffee must be stopped.
- Avoid chewing pencils, pens and gums as they increase your jaw clenching habits and teeth grinding.
- If you caught yourself clenching or grinding put the tip of your tongue between your teeth to help your jaw relax.
- At night, use warm cloths against your cheeks to relax your jaw before sleeping.
Magrabi’s dentist advice:
It may seem that teeth grinding is a simple disorder, but neglecting it means increasing stress levels in your life and teeth loss. Visit your dentist regularly for early detection and treatment. Try to relax more often and always wear your night guard to avoid complications of teeth grinding.