According to a research, 82 million Americans (roughly 25 percent of the population) grind or clench their teeth. This habit, known medically as bruxism, is one of the most common dental conditions, and it can damage teeth or lead to painful TMJ disorder. Although bruxism can occur when the bruxer is awake, the majority of teeth grinding and clenching takes place subconsciously during sleeping hours.
Causes of Bruxism
Stress, anxiety, demographics, and lifestyle factors contribute to bruxism. Young children and adolescences are more likely to grind and clench their teeth while sleeping, and highly stressed, well-educated, middle-aged individuals are among the second-highest group affected by bruxism.
Additionally, smoking, high caffeine intake, and heavy alcohol consumption are factors that contribute to a teeth grinding habit. Research shows that bruxism is significantly higher in individuals whose lifestyles include the use of these psychoactive substances.
Another common cause of bruxism is malocclusion, the condition that occurs when upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly. Sometimes, the joints of the jaw (temporomandibular joints) aren’t seated properly; in other situations, teeth are misaligned. Because jaw muscles work overtime to hold the mouth in proper position during the day, they’re fatigued by bedtime. The tired muscles react by twitching, so teeth are gnashed and clenched. Pressure wears down teeth, which further harms occlusion and contributes to TMJ disorder. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include worn teeth, headaches, chronic earaches, popping jaw joints, and limited motion of the jaw, to name a few. A cycle of destruction begins, and if it is not stopped, pain and tooth damage may become significant.
Do you Have Bruxism?
Treatment for Bruxism
If your bruxism has escalated to the point that the biting surfaces of teeth have been altered, Dr. Fondriest may suggest restorations to rebuild the bite, which will take pressure off jaw joints and stress off of associated muscles. If, however, your bruxism is in the early stages, Dr. Fondriest can fit you for a custom nightguard, an oral appliance that will prevent your upper and lower teeth from touching while you sleep. Some nightguards address only clenching and grinding, while others also reposition the mouth so that the TMJs are properly seated. This minimally invasive approach to correcting bruxism and TMJ disorder involves no pharmaceuticals or surgery.