Many people go through their days building up stress, and although they might know they’re stressed out, they might not know that they are taking it out on their teeth. Bruxism or teeth grinding is a condition where people unknowingly grind their teeth while they sleep, sometimes until the teeth crack or break.
Severe stress is thought to be the cause of this harmful condition. Morning headaches or sore jaws, earaches, and toothaches for no apparent reason can be signs that you’re grinding your teeth at night. The grinding usually begins in adulthood but sometimes affects children.
After years of grinding, teeth can have a flat appearance and can even be filed down to the gum line. Getting dentures or partial plates doesn’t help, either. The grinding will continue until the new teeth are worn out, too.
The way that most people find out that they are grinding their teeth is that their sleeping partner will complain about the noise of the teeth grinding, usually, a high-pitched squeaking sound that goes on throughout the night.
About half of the adult population grinds their teeth some, but only about 20 percent do it at a destructive level. If you think you could be grinding your teeth at night, see a physician or dentist who might recommend a tooth guard to wear during sleep, muscle relaxants, or even therapy to get to the source of the stress.
The tooth guard, or bite plate, is worn inside the mouth to prevent the teeth from meeting, therefore stopping the grinding. There are various designs, depending upon the company that makes them, and they can be purchased with no prescription.
Some mouth guards have to be dipped in boiling water, then after cooling somewhat, placed in the mouth to form the shape of the teeth. Others simply slip over the back teeth to prevent grinding. Some people complain that they find it difficult to go to sleep with the mouthpiece, whereas others have no problems at all, and the teeth grinding comes to a halt.
If the grinding is severe, and other methods have failed you, the physician might temporarily prescribe muscle relaxants which will help to relax the jaws enough to prevent much, if not all, of the grinding. Muscle relaxants have side effects and can be addictive if used over a period of time, so look into your other options before deciding to take medication to solve the problem.
The very best way to treat night time teeth grinding is to get to the source of the problem – stress. Try to find out what’s causing the stress, with the help of a psychologist, if necessary. Alleviate as much stress from your life as possible and learn to relax.
Teeth grinding is a serious ailment that can cause permanent damage to gums, teeth and jaws. Those who grind their teeth can also suffer a tremendous amount of pain. Wear a mouth guard, if possible, until the stress is alleviated, but most importantly, seek treatment for the underlying causes of the stress.