Teeth grinding is a condition known as Bruxism, in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth together during the day, or clench or grind them at night (sleep bruxism).
Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea). Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it's important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.
Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to TMJ or jaw joint problems. TMJ stands for Temperomandibular joint and it is the joint that allows the jaw to move – it’s located just in front of the ear hole.
The problems can range from:
- A clicking jaw every time it is opened
- lack of opening and movement
- Pain in the jaw joint
- headaches and pain around teeth and muscles
- Grinding or clenching your teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the joint
- Arthritis in the joint
- Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
One of the commonest reasons for headaches is as the teeth are misaligned and the bite is not even a person can start grinding at night to eliminate the uneven bite so muscles go into overload and headaches frequently result as well as pain in the lower jaw around the teeth.
A Bite Splint can be used to stop the teeth from grinding. The Bite Splint is worn at night and it works by not allowing the teeth to bite together so grinding is eliminated.
If a Bite splint does not help then more advanced therapies may be needed such as Dysport (botox); which is placed into the masseter muscle (the main muscle for biting and chewing). The muscle is temporarily weakened which prevents the muscle from clenching involuntarily while you sleep.
Very occasional surgery is needed but in the majority cases straightening the teeth to improve the bite is what is best for long term results.
Click here to read more about grinding and clenching in our Autumn 2015 newsletter
To find out more about Teeth Grinding and the options available please contact us