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Teeth Grinding 101: The What the Why and The How

August 3rd, 2018|
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Teeth grinding, (fancily known as bruxism) is known as the clenching, gnashing and grinding of one’s teeth. Half of us do it from time to time, and some (about five percent) are regular, heavy-duty teeth grinders. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you (or someone you know) struggles with teeth grinding. We’ve got some quick information on why you’re likely grinding your teeth, what effects grinding has, and how you can stop grinding. Read on to learn more.

Why am I grinding my teeth?

Teeth grinding comes partially down to biology (genetics), psychology (stress, personal traits), and external factors such as smoking, alcohol, caffeine and certain drugs.

First, it’s important to differentiate between night-time teeth grinding, and daytime teeth grinding. Night-time grinding is the most common form of bruxism and is recognised by the screeching, chomping sounds that keep many disgruntled partners up at night.

Night time grinding can also often be linked to sleep apnea or abnormally shaped or positioned teeth. Kids frequently grind their teeth, but it rarely results in lasting damage. It is when they grind into adulthood that the damages can appear. Day-time teeth grinding, and clenching is rarer than night time grinding (but not uncommon), perhaps because you are awake and aware. However, day time clenching might be a symptom of stress, anxiety or concentration, or could be a bad habit that’s stuck. If you find yourself clenching during the daytime, it might be wise to consider why, and try to find ways to prevent it.

What does grinding do to my teeth?

Teeth grinding comes with a range of symptoms and effects. While occasional teeth grinding can simply frustrate your partner, more serious teeth grinding can lead to structural damage to your teeth and other painful symptoms.

Effects to face and jaw can include: Headaches, earaches, and pain and stiffness of jaw.

Effects to mouth include: Tooth indentations of your tongue and a raised ridge along the side of your cheek matching the meeting point of your upper and lower teeth.

Effects to teeth can include: Aching teeth, temperature sensitivity, cracked enamel, worn down teeth, loose teeth.

If you experience several of these symptoms, or you’ve been told by your partner that you’re a grinder, chat to your dentist about this at your next appointment to see whether you may require further bruxism treatment.

How can I prevent grinding?

Luckily, there are several ways you can try to reduce and altogether stop your teeth grinding. These include: stress management therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, wearing a mouthguard, relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation and exercise. For some DIY cognitive behaviour therapy for day-time clenchers, try positioning your tongue between your teeth when you catch yourself tensing up to train your brain to stop clenching. If your bruxism is more severe, your dentist might also suggest tooth repairs as well as muscle relaxing medication.

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