Teeth grinding

6 to 20% adults suffer from grinding or jaw clenching at some point in life.

WHY?

Generally, the contact between the top and bottom dental arches only occurs when eating or when swallowing saliva which accounts for around 20 minutes a day. But because of stress, some people will clench their teeth for a number of hours during the day or night, unconsciously, for half of them.

A number of people will grind their teeth during the night totally unconsciously. This grinding is called bruxism.

WHO?

In general, bruxism is found in stress or anxious patients. An emotional choc can be a trigger point, such as the loss of a job, mourning or a divorce. Introverted individuals seem to be more subject to bruxism. It seems to be a way of externalising their feelings.

WHAT CAN BE THE CONSEQUENCES OF BRUXISM?

Bruxism causes a premature and abnormal wearing of the contact surface of the teeth. This can in turn cause the teeth roots to be exposed making them more sensitive to hot and cold. Due to the effect of pressure in bruxism can cause cracks and even fractures of teeth even if they are healthy. If no treatment is put in place, the teeth enamel can completely disappear, as if it had been shaved.

Then in turn the dentin disappears, exposing the pulp (which contains the nerve) to exterior aggressions. The decrease in the height of the teeth will also affect the relationship between the top and bottom jaw. The normal alignment being non-existent, the bottom jaw slides forward, giving the impression the chin has gone forward.

HOW WILL I KNOW I SUFFER FROM BRUXISM?

The person sharing your bed can simply complain from the noise of grinding. In the morning, you may suffer some a dull ach or pain as if you had shewed a chewing-gum for hours on end. Abnormal functioning of the jaw joint or muscles surrounding the jaw is common in bruxism.

Observation of the facial features of a patient with bruxism will show a hypertrophy of a certain amount of jaw muscles, the jaw then appears to have a trapezoidal shape. The patient can suffer with pain in the neck, back and head.

TREATMENT

During the day, the patient that clenches his teeth can try to be conscious of it by, for example, placing coloured stickers in different areas of his working area. These coloured stickers will then remind the patient to relax.

Whereas with night bruxism, only the use of gutters will protect the teeth. These gutters exist in different shapes and materials. They are made to measure from dental imprints at the surgery. These gutters will protect the teeth but also any filling, crowns, bridges ensuring these do not fracture.

In certain severe cases, injections of the botulinum toxin in the jaw muscles can reduce significantly the phenomenon.

Another possibility of treatment is hypnosis because it can deal with the emotional factors which can cause bruxism. It doesn’t mean going through a full psychotherapy, but simply, explain to your subconscious that you are better than that, for your health, and not break your teeth!