Realizing you are grinding your teeth is a major step in stopping the grinding and clinching. Bruxism, is the dental term for grinding the teeth and clinching the jaws. The effects of Bruxism on the teeth can be devastating. Children are far more likely to have Bruxism than adults.
Bruxism can occur during the day or night and can be limited to night only. Most children and a portion of the adults are totally unaware they grind their teeth or clinch their jaws until it has caused major dental issues. A dentist can identify Bruxism patients by the damage to the teeth. Grinding of the teeth erodes the enamel, can cause chips, and wears down the structural features of the teeth involved. The teeth can become flattened in appearance. Damage to or removal of the enamel leads to extensive decay and can result in partial or total loss of the teeth. Clinching the jaw can inflict wounds to the inside of the cheeks and cause temporomandibular joint problems which can be severe enough to require surgery. It can become unbearably painful as the TMJ is pushed out of line and pops every time the patient eats or drinks.
Most children only grind their teeth or clinch their jaws at night during sleep. This can be true for adults as well, but a larger number of adults also grind their teeth during the day. Should a patient notice they are grinding the teeth, an immediate call to a dental office needs to be made. The patient’s dentist can assess the damage already done to the teeth and work out a plan of treatment for the teeth involved. The dentist can also fit the patient for a mouth guard to be worn at night. This dental appliance will absorb the force of the bite and help prevent continued damage while the patient is working to eliminate the grinding.
Grinding of the teeth can become habitual but occurs more often during times of high stress and anger. It is often found in hyperactive children and adults and patients with ADHD. Highly competitive people often suffer from Bruxism and may also clinch their fists. These factors fall into the psychological category but can be treated and stopped in most cases.
By working with their dentist and physician, a Bruxism patient can use a mouth guard, may be given medication to alleviate symptoms of stress, and may take an anger management course. The patient can work on behavior modification in dealing with stress and practice exercises in how to properly rest their tongue, teeth, and jaws.
If you have noticed that you or your child grind the teeth, take immediate action to see a dentist and physician. It can reduce the damage to the teeth and put a stop to the grinding.