Help! I’m grinding my teeth!

Oh gosh! My jaw was so sore this morning when I woke up and my face is so painful!

This is a common statement from many people nowadays in our society – whether, telling a friend over a drink in the pub or to your medical or dental practitioner. I went down a rabbit hole preparing my exams for uni and burning the candles at both ends, and hence, suffered from chronic teeth grinding, which caused some irreversible damage on my teeth! Today, I would like to share with you what teeth grinding means, it’s effects and how we can prevent it.

Teeth grinding or bruxism?

Bruxism is just another way of saying grinding your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you’re awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism).

Bruxism is a habit that affects around 8-10% of the population and specially adults who deal with chronic stress. It is broadly characterised by grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. This causes tooth wear and breakage, disorders of the jaw (pain and limited movement) and headache. Bruxism occurs in both children and adults but is most common in 25-44 year olds.

What makes teeth grinding worse?

Three main lifestyle factors:

  1. Smoking
  2. Caffeine intake
  3. Heavy alcohol consumption

These three elements are the main co-factors associated to bruxism. you can break the habit by reducing caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol intake – especially in the evenings.

Other lifestyle factors:

  • Stressors: anxiety, employment or financial concerns, illness and addictions are widely associated with the inability to relax, whether by the day or night.
  • Medications: such as antidepressants have side effects that create the conditions leading to bruxism. These includes psychotropic medicines that affect the mood, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Medical conditions: sleep apnoea or acid reflux.
  • Neurological illness: Parkinson’s disease and Huntinton’s disease are associated with both awake and sleep bruxism.
  • Abnormal bite: caused by misaligned and/or missing teeth greatly contributes to a pattern of bruxism.

If your bruxism is caused by sleep apnoea or another related disorder, professional treatment can not only help you stop grinding your teeth but also get a better night’s sleep. If you think this is your case, please do get in touch with your doctor.

Is grinding my teeth a dental condition or a medical one? 

It is both. There is a huge connection between your oral heath and overall health. Grinding your teeth, especially severely, can have a big impact on your health, leading to jaw issues and headaches as well as dental issues such as loose, fractured, or sore teeth.

What can happen if I don’t get any treatment?

If Bruxism is not addressed, teeth grinding can eventually wear down teeth, damage gum attachments or fracture weaker teeth. It can even contribute to tooth loss.

Treatments for Bruxism?

  1. Protective: Mouth guards/occlusal splints: Prevent the upper and lower jaw from coming into contact and encourage the jaw to settle in a relaxed position. This prevents tooth wear, jaw pain and soreness.
  2. Lifestyle management: reducing the stress factors mentioned above and changing them for positive ones.
  3. Corrective: a device that creates more space, balances the bite and corrects the underlying causes of apnoea particularly. For example a Mandibular advancement device.

What can I do as a long term to reduce stress/anxiety?

  1. Exercise: punch today in the face 🙂
  2. Meditation: Ommm….
  3. Listening to music you enjoy: letting your hair down😉
  4. Reaching out to your loved ones or counselling therapy

“Drop by drop, a whole lake becomes” –

Bulgarian Proverb

Bruxism is a multi-factorial condition and there is not a one single cause that exacerbate it. Therefore, the night guard combined with other tools (previously mentioned) is the best way to fight back to it.

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week – Guys, I do hit procrastination more often than I wish, however, I realised that initial small but constant steps, are key to any transformation we want to make. We may not see results straight away, it doesn’t matter, it will come to us.

Baby giraffes take their first adorably wobbly steps 30 to 60 minutes after making their big debuts, however, for baby Okapis (nicknamed “forest giraffes”) it take nearly 15 months! Everyone is going though a different journey, and that’s OK 🙂

If you relate with the symptoms mentioned in this post, please visit your dentist 🙂 A thorough examination is important to get the right diagnosis and treatment.

Call Acton Dental Practice and book your examination appointment with me: 020 8226 2151

%d bloggers like this: