For this month’s health column we explore the dentals (read: details) of teeth grinding:
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is a constant and forceful habit of gridding or clenching the teeth. Usually teeth should touch each other when chewing and swallowing food, which happens briefly during the day.
What are the consequences?
Often the excessive force of bruxism results in the destruction of the enamel and dentine of your teeth. Without these protective layers, your teeth may become sensitive, painful and vulnerable to decay. The regular habit of clenching or grinding may lead to pain in the jaw and muscles.
Who has it?
According to some statistics, half of the population is thought to have occasionally grinded their teeth. One out of every 20 cases of bruxism could become a serious condition. Furthermore, about 30 percent of children grind or clench their teeth.
Do I have it?
During sleep, a bed partner may be able to notice grinding noises. Other signs and symptoms include a dull morning headache, tight jaw muscles, limited mouth opening when yawning, prolonged facial pain, damage to the teeth and fractured dental fillings. Your dentist is crucial in helping to diagnose bruxism. You will be asked a series of questions and your overall dental health will be checked.
What are the causes?
Many factors are associated with bruxism such as stress, anxiety, drug use, side effects of antidepressants, concentration during work or studying, illness, dehydration, bad diet, sleeping problems, teething (in babies), missing teeth, incorrect teeth alignment and problems with dental work.
How can bruxism be treated?
There are many treatments for bruxism, which may include relaxation, counseling, sports activities and improving the quality of sleep. You may also benefit from reducing the use of stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine. Very often dentists prescribe grinding mouth guards to protect your teeth, jaw and muscles from the destructive pressure forces. If teeth are worn down too much, restorative and cosmetic treatments are also required (fillings, crowns or veneers).
Can it get worse?
Many cases of bruxism are mild and have minor consequences. Nonetheless, people should consult their dentist to identify and stop the cause. Serious cases result in pain and teeth destruction, which will require specific treatment. If you think you may have this condition, it’s best to take action to prevent any serious consequences.
Dr. Sandro Rasgado is a chief physician at Kaiyi Dental Clinic, 11/F, Binghua Hotel, 2 Tianhe Bei Lu, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 广州市天河区天河北路2号冰花酒店11层 (3886 4821