Teeth grinding is also referred to as bruxism. Bruxism means the clenching and gnashing of the teeth which happens either during the day or at night. In most cases, people who clench their teeth do not realize when they are doing it.
Types of Bruxism
1. Sleep bruxism
Sleep bruxism is when teeth grinding occurs in your sleep. Your upper and lower teeth bite down onto each other causing a grinding sound. Because you are asleep during this, you may not even realize that you are doing it. If you sleep next to someone, they may notice it in the middle of the night and inform you the next day. You also may have a sore jaw in the morning after waking up from doing this during the night.
2. Awake bruxism
This is teeth grinding that occur when you are awake. Although, teeth grinding during your sleep is something that you aren’t conscious of, during the day you most likely are. Even if you are subconsciously grinding your teeth, you may have formed a habit of doing so.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding can occur during the day when you are lifting a heavy object or when you are concentrating on a certain task such as reading. However, teeth grinding mostly occurs during sleep. Clenching of your teeth during sleep can be caused by a number of factors.
According to research, increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression are known to cause one to clench their teeth. People with certain behaviors such as tobacco smoking, and heavy drinking of alcohol or caffeine are more likely to clench their teeth when sleeping. Teeth grinding is also known to be caused by unresolved anger or frustration.
Bruxism is also associated with people who snore or have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea mostly occurs in men, people aged 40 years and above ar also prone to it as well. Others that have a disruption of sleep or are overweight, may experience bruxism as well.
One may not be able to tell when they are clenching their teeth because it mostly occurs when one is in a deep sleep. However, certain signs and symptoms may help you know that you grind your teeth.
Signs and symptoms of teeth clenching
1. Swelling of one side of the lower jaws – The clenching of teeth mostly happens on one side of the mouth where most of the pressure is exerted.
2. Waking up with a headache – This could be a sign that you were clenching your teeth when asleep.
3. Muscles of the jaw become tight or even painful.
4. A grinding sound at night. Although, you may not hear when you are grinding your teeth, your family members may tell you if you produce that grinding sound.
5. The jaw muscles may contract rhythmically after teeth clenching.
6. The two bones that connect the jawbone to the skull (also known as temporomandibular joint) may also experience some discomfort.
7. Sensitive teeth – This could be due to the wear of the enamel.
Impacts of teeth grinding on your teeth
Bruxism is not harmful to the teeth. However, if the teeth grinding occurs frequently it could damage your teeth or denture work, and cause overall oral problems. Teeth sensitivity is most likely to occur due to the wear of the outer surface of your teeth – the enamel. Teeth grinding can result to breakage, and mobility of your teeth or denture due to the pressure exerted on them. In extreme cases, teeth grinding can lead to loss of teeth if it wears down to the stump.
Three Natural Remedies for Teeth Grinding
1. Wearing occlusal appliances and cognitive behavior therapy
Most cases of tooth grinding are caused by stress, anxiety and depression. Managing your stress levels can help stop bruxism. Therapy would be ideal to help treat depression, and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Occlusal appliances are custom made plastic appliances that fit on both the top and the bottom teeth. They prevent abnormal wear, or mobility of your teeth and pain on the jaw caused by the teeth grinding. The two methods applied together are considered to be the most effective compared to applying either of those methods alone.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a natural remedy that can help you stop clenching your teeth. Vitamin C helps the adrenal gland to regulate stress levels. It helps in the production of dopamine which regulates our moods therefore lowering your anxiety levels. Therefore, eating foods that are rich in vitamin C such as strawberries, papaya and kales can help reduce your stress levels.
3. Biofeedback therapy
Biofeedback therapy is a exercise done on certain muscles of your mouth. In cases where teeth grinding is caused by a habit developed by an individual then biofeedback therapy can be a natural way of stopping teeth grinding. This would also apply if there wasn’t stress, tobacco or heavy alcohol intake, or a sleep disorder. Your dentist would help you to understand how to position your teeth and prevent muscle movement that may cause teeth grinding.
Bruxism is not harmful but if it happens repeatedly, it could harm your teeth. Treating teeth grinding depends on the cause of this habit. However, in most cases it may not require any medication for you to stop clenching your teeth.
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