Dentistry is a skill that is both acquired and taught; a skill that can change someone’s life. Being blessed with such a skill, I have made it my mission to change as many lives as possible. This is why I began participating in volunteer dental missions seven years ago. After my first dental mission to…
3 Best Practices to Prevent Teeth Grinding
Teeth Grinding is also medically known as bruxism which basically means the clenching of your teeth. Tooth grinding can occur whether one is asleep or awake. During the day, a person can clench their teeth when lifting heavy objects or when concentrating on a certain task such as reading or writing. During the night, teeth grinding can occur when you are in a deep sleep.
What causes teeth grinding?
Research shows that teeth grinding can be caused by stress, anxiety or depression. It also shows that the clenching of teeth is most likely to occur to people who smoke, consume high levels of alcohol, and also have high levels of caffeine intake. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea where your breathing is disrupted during your sleep from being overweight. It is also common among men or people who are above the age of 40 years year old.
Symptoms of teeth grinding
Since teeth grinding mostly occurs during sleep, it is not easy for most people to realize when they are grinding their teeth. However, certain symptoms can help you find out if you actually grind your teeth when you are asleep.
Headaches are the most common symptoms of teeth grinding. Other symptoms of teeth grinding include stiffness of the neck and shoulders, pain in the ears, sleep disorders, discomfort of the temporomandibular joint (the two joints that connect the jawbone to the skull) and occasionally swelling of your lower jaw. You can also find out from family if they hear you, due to the sound produced during teeth grinding.
Effects of grinding on your teeth
Bruxism does not harm your teeth. However, if teeth grinding occurs more often, it could damage your teeth and affect your overall oral health. As a result of frequent teeth grinding, your teeth may experience abnormal wear and mobility, and this could result in teeth fracture or even the loss of teeth. Teeth can wear down to stumps causing loss of the teeth and you may require getting dental veneers in order to replace the lost teeth.
If grinding is done for a long period of time, it erodes the enamel of the teeth itself, which can cause sensitivity to the exterior of the teeth.
Best practices to prevent teeth grinding
1. Behavioral changes and stress and anxiety management
In cases where teeth grinding is as a result of stress, anxiety or depression, managing these stress and anxiety levels can help you stop grinding your teeth so frequently. Stress and anxiety levels can be lowered by relaxing, meditating as well as psychoanalysis to determine what could be causing the stress and anxiety. Therapy is also an effective way to reduce stress, anxiety and treat depression.
While teeth grinding is caused by smoking, heavy alcohol drinking or taking caffeine you may need to consider behavioral changes. Refraining from alcohol, tobacco smoking, and taking in too much caffeine will go a long way in helping you put to an end to the clenching of your teeth.
2. Wearing occlusal appliances
Occlusal appliances are custom made appliances that are placed over your top or bottom teeth mainly at bedtime. These appliances are made of plastic and they help reduce pain on the jaw muscle. They also protect your teeth from clenching, therefore, preventing abnormal wear and tear that could eventually cause a loss of teeth. These appliances can help people with chronic teeth grinding in order to protect their teeth from wearing down to a stump. This may require a partial or complete denture in order to replace the lost teeth. This method is considered to be the best in order to prevent and protect your teeth against constant grinding.
3. Mandibular advancement devices
These are custom made devices that fit on both the top and the bottom of your teeth. The devices help bring the bottom jaw forward. This method of gum treatment is most preferred and the devices help manage snoring as well as sleep apnea.
Clenching of teeth is treatable and each treatment method is determined by what leads one to start grinding their teeth. For those whose teeth grinding is caused by anxiety and stress, they may consider a stress management plan while those whose teeth grinding is caused by sleep disorders, mandibular advancement devices could be ideal for them. Others may have to apply both behavioral changes and the wearing of occlusal appliances. However, it is important to visit a dentist to develop a plan that is ideal for you to stop grinding teeth.
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