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Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, involves grinding, gnashing, or clenching teeth. It can cause jaw, muscle, and TMJ symptoms like jaw ache, headaches, earaches, and tooth sensitivity. Often unconscious, especially at night, many don't realize they have it until symptoms appear or a dentist notices tooth wear. Causes include stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders. If experiencing symptoms, consult a dental professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Who does teeth grinding affect?

Children and adults can experience teeth grinding, but it mostly affects people between the age of 25 – 45. The two types of bruxism include:

  • Daytime or waking bruxism

    It usually involves jaw clenching in response to stress or certain stimuli.

  • Sleeping bruxism

    It is the most common type of teeth grinding, occurring when sleeping. It usually includes tooth grinding and clenching of the jaw.

What causes tooth grinding?

Tooth grinding has several causes, and the exact cause is often difficult to identify. Possible causes of tooth grinding are:

  • Incorrectly aligned teeth and teeth that aren’t in the right position with the jaw joint. This leaves an uncomfortable bite, increasing the risk of teeth grinding. This naturally occurs in some patients, but in others, it results from previous braces or fillings and crowns that have changed the bite’s position.
  • Stress – stress is directly linked to bruxism. Finding ways to relieve stress and relax can help reduce bruxism. Studies have shown that about 80% of people will grind their teeth at some point.
  • Other factors – obstructive sleep apnoea is directly linked to bruxism. People with this condition do not get sufficient oxygen while sleeping and often get periods of bruxism at night.
  • Stimulants – regular drug use, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine intake (six cups or more daily) can cause stimuli, leading to disturbed sleep and an increased risk of bruxism.

What are the dental symptoms related to stress?

Dental treatments for bruxism

Occlusal splints are a treatment that reduces strain on the muscles. The plastic splints are custom-made in the laboratory for each patient to reduce and address the effect of tooth grinding. This treatment method gives fast improvement.

Lifestyle changes and anti-stress medications can also help when stress and anxiety are the causes of bruxism. Some patients also find that injecting Botox into the jaw muscles can help.

In some cases, orthodontic treatment can move the teeth and bite into a better position. A more complex treatment may be necessary to restructure the bite by first relaxing the jaw muscles with an occlusal splint, then adjusting specific points in the teeth, and filing other teeth to re-equilibrate the bite and balance the chewing system to align the bite with the TMJ.

Visit Kingston Orthodontics or call us on 0203 002 2501 to book an appointment with our orthodontists to discuss your treatment options for bruxism.  


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