What is Bruxism?

Simply defined, teeth grinding is the act of consciously or unconsciously clenching your teeth either during the day or while you sleep. It is clinically referred to as bruxism. Bruxism is considered both a medical and a dental problem. This is because it affects both the teeth and all of the structure near it, including the head. Have you ever had a roommate or a sleeping partner that snores? Well you might have had one that grinds their teeth in their sleep as well. However, unlike snoring, teeth grinding sounds are a little on the low side, although it can be as bothersome as well. Teeth grinding usually happens during sleep.

If you grind your teeth, you will know the problems that it can cause. Grinding your teeth at night can cause a painful jaw in the morning. Over time, teeth grinding can cause serious tooth damage, such as cracking of enamel. Teeth grinding can keep your sleeping partner awake, causing relationship difficulties. Many people who grind their teeth find their jaw is tense during the day as well, but the worst grinding happens at night. And this is where the real problem arises.

Tobacco, caffeine, alcohol or drug use may also cause teeth grinding. Having a vitamin deficiency (such as of calcium or magnesium) may be linked with teeth grinding, so it's important to follow a well-balanced, nutritious diet and take a multivitamin supplement if needed. In rare instances, teeth grinding can be a side-effect of antidepressant medicines. The most likely culprits to teeth grinding are things like stress, sleep disorders, crooked or missing teeth and having an abnormal bite, where the upper and lower teeth do not come together normally (known as malocclusion). Also, short-term teeth grinding may be caused by an illness, such as a cold, ear infection, pinworms or allergies; check with your doctor if the grinding continues after the medical condition has passed.

Your dentist may recommend a mouth guard or appliance (a splint for the teeth) to protect the teeth and possibly prevent grinding. Orthodontic correction may be needed if the teeth or jaws are poorly aligned. Most of the time, treatment is not needed and many children will stop grinding their teeth on their own. If left untreated, however, teeth grinding can sometimes damage the teeth or cause headaches and tmj (temporomandibular joint) pain.

Keep the jaws relaxed in the daytime by not chewing on pens, pencils, fingernails or gum may prevent grinding and clenching at night. Finally, treating and preventing stress or anxiety through counseling, relaxation, exercise, meditation, hypnotherapy or any number of other stress-relief methods may help eliminate teeth grinding as well. For more information on how to prevent or cure bruxism just go to the link below.

By Ellen Roberts