Teeth grinding is consciously or unconsciously sliding of teeth and molars over each other, so hard that a grinding noise is created. Teeth grinding often happens unconsciously during sleep. The person himself doesn’t notice it, but it can keep others from sleep. And if the grinding is intense and persistent, it can damage the teeth and cause pain.
There is no immediate cause for teeth grinding. Studies show that multiple factors can play a role, such as:
- Sleep disorders.
- Hereditary factors (about half of cases is hereditary).
- Psychological disorders.
- Certain diseases of the central nervous system.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Using medication (antidepressants, such as Prozac).
- Using drugs (ecstasy pills and cocaine).
People with this condition can literally grind their teeth all night without noticing it. Therefore, it is difficult to recognize. The partner or dentist often notices it first and the patient himself often finds out when he or she has a sore jaw or headache, neck pain or shoulder pain. The most common signs and symptoms of teeth grinding are:
- Sore and tense muscles of the face and jaws.
- Popping or clicking sound in the joint between temple and upper jaw.
- Each morning new biting edges at the inside of the cheeks.
- Worn teeth for no apparent reason.
- Flat molar surfaces.
- Sensitive teeth.
- Facial pain or headache.
- The partner says that the person concerned grinds teeth or clicks the jaws all night.
- Dislocated jaw.
In addition, people who grind teeth are often tense and often have stress in their lives, they often have a tendency to bite on anything during the day, for example a pen, nails or hair.
The dentist will determine whether the dental damage is indeed caused by teeth grinding. This is based on a description of the symptoms and examination of the teeth.
There are several options for treatment of teeth grinding. In order to save teeth and molars, the dentist can make a plastic dental guard that protects teeth and relieves the jaw muscles. This dental guard is worn at night. The cause of the problem, teeth grinding, however, is not combated. With the guard there is only tried to prevent further wear. Unfortunately, this doesn't always succeed and sometimes it can even have a counterproductive effect.
In order to counter teeth grinding, there are several therapies, such as stretching exercises, friction massages and behavioral therapy. Relaxation seems to help. People seem to grind especially in a lighter sleep phase. By doing relaxation exercises before bedtime, sleep deepens, causing less grinding. Also with medication is attempted to rid people of teeth grinding. There are muscle relaxants, but this is mostly still in an experimental phase.
Teeth grinding is no serious condition, but is often present for years. Without treatment, it can cause permanent damage to the teeth and chronic jaw pain. However, the behavior that leads to teeth grinding can only be changed if the underlying cause is found and addressed.
- Reduce stress. Stress is usually the main cause of teeth grinding, so ensure to minimize stress. There are several exercises which a person can do himself to reduce stress, such as meditation.
- Stop consuming caffeine. Try not to drink coffee, cola, black tea and energy drinks. Caffeine is an addictive stimulant, which makes it difficult to relax and thus allows the jaws difficult to unwind at night.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol is a drug and not good for a healthy sleep. Teeth grinding is worse after consuming alcohol.
- Stop chewing at anything that isn’t food. Try not to be nervous with things in the mouth. Many people chew on the back of pencils or pens because they are stressed.
- Train not to clamp the jaws together during the day. If a person notices that he or she has tense jaws or the jaws are often pressed hard together, always try to do the tip of the tongue between the teeth.
- Add calcium and magnesium supplements to the diet. Calcium and magnesium are important for the functioning of muscles and the overall health of the nervous system.
- Relax before going to bed. It's extremely important not to have stress right before going to bed. Then one will be more relaxed during sleep and there will be less teeth grinding.