Bruxism is the condition of teeth grinding, it can occur in the day time but is more common when asleep. Most people have had bruxism at some point and it is often light and poses little threat to someone’s health. However when it becomes more severe it can have more serious repercussions. According to research the most common cause of bruxism is malocclusionor ‘bad bite’ although it is mostly associated with anxiety and stress. If the majority of bruxism occurs at night it could possibly be due to problems with the sleep cycle.
Bruxism can become a problem when it is severe and incessant. It can cause damage to the teeth and in some cases tooth loss and so implants or crowns may be required. Not only does it cause damage to the teeth but it can also worsen the condition of the jaws and in extreme, untreated causes it can lead to can lead to a partial loss of hearing affect the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ), or even change the appearance of the face.
Bruxism is usually inconsequential and therefore does not require treatment but if it starts to cause damage or pain it should be addressed. If stress is diagnosed as the cause then stress relieving measures need to be taken. Avoidance of caffeine based drinks and chewing on items that aren’t food, e.g. pencils can also relieve the problem, not to mention actually stopping yourself from tooth grinding if it happens during the day. If it happens at night then relaxing your jaw muscles before going to sleep by pressing a damp, warm cloth against your face. If these measures do not relieve the problem then your dentist may fit you with a mouthguard to prevent damage to the teeth occuring when bruxism happens at night.