Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, affects around 10 percent of the population. Most people grind their teeth at night and are unaware they are doing it until somebody else tells them. Bruxism involves clenching the teeth tightly together and grinding the surfaces of the teeth against each other.

Why do people grind their teeth?

There are a number of different reasons why people may grind their teeth; possible causes of bruxism include:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Orthodontic problems
  • Health conditions, including Parkinson�s disease
  • Sleep disorders including sleep apnoea
  • Excessive caffeine intake

Recently, dentists have reported an increase in the number of people that work in the financial sector with symptoms of teeth grinding; this is thought to be related to the pressures caused by the recession.

What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?

Most people are unaware that they grind their teeth so it is important to be able to spot the symptoms; common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Earache
  • Pain in the jaw; usually teeth grinding causes the jaw joint to feel stiff
  • Wearing down of the surfaces of the teeth
  • Pain in the teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Sore, rough patches on the inside of the cheek

What treatments are available for bruxism?

Long-term bruxism can cause serious problems so it is important to seek treatment from a dentist. The most common treatments include wearing a protective mouth guard at night to prevent teeth grinding and undergoing a course of therapy or counselling for stress. If bruxism is caused by orthodontic or dental problems these issues will be treated as a priority; this should ease the symptoms of bruxism. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you should see your dentist.

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