Clenching Grinding

Clenching and grinding is known as “Bruxism”

What is clenching or grinding?

Some people grind their teeth and clench their jaw muscles during their sleep. Often individuals are not even aware of this habit as it commonly occurs during sleep. It could also be a subconscious habit during the day.

Why do I clench or grind my teeth?

Whilst the cause is not known for certain. The causes might be physical or psychological. They can include-

  • Stress (emotional, physical pain or illness)
  • Breathing problems related to sleep apnoea and reduced airways
  • Malocclusions and changes to your bite
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Personality types (anxious, hyperactive)

What symptoms could I have?

  • Tension headaches, neck and shoulder pain
  • Grinding wears, the teeth down and causes crack teeth and fillings
  • Aching and tender teeth
  • The jaw joint may be sore and/or difficult to open or close, known as trismus or lock jaw
  • Clicking jaw joints
  • Loose teeth

During your routine dental exams, the dentist might ask you questions and look for signs and symptoms.

How can I fix my clenching/grinding habit?

  • Monitoring
  • Referral to your doctor (GP), ENT, sleep specialist, or psychologist/psychiatrist.
  • Use of medications- muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety/anti-depressants, botox injections.
  • Dental approaches- which include use of appliances like occlusal splints, snoring appliances, orthodontics. Depending on the extent of damage, dental treatment might be directed towards fixing the damaged teeth.
  • Behavioural and lifestyle modifications – elimination of stimulants (eg coffee), yoga, relaxation exercises.

Treatment can be directed towards the symptoms or the underlying cause. Talk with your dentist or doctor to find out which option may work best for you.

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