Teeth grinding

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 several hours during the day or night, unconsciously, for half of them. Many people will unconsciously grind their teeth during the night. This grinding is called bruxism.
6 to 20% adults suffer from grinding or jaw clenching at some point in life.

How to know if I am grinding my teeth?

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.

You may experience some of these symptoms if you 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.

Do you recognize yourself in these symptoms?


What are the consequences of teeth grinding?

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.

The pressure caused by bruxism can lead to cracks or even fractures in previously healthy teeth. If not treated in time, the enamel of the teeth can disappear completely, as if it had been ground away. The dentin then disappears, exposing the pulp (which contains the nerve) to a wide range of external influences

The decrease in tooth height due to wear leads to a disturbance in the relationship between the upper and lower jaws: the lower jaw slides forward, giving the impression that the chin has moved forward considerably.

What are possible treatments?

  • 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 tailor-made from dental imprints at the dental office. These gutters will protect the teeth but also any filling, crowns, bridges ensuring these do not break.
  • In certain severe cases, injections of the botulinum toxin in the jaw muscles can significantly reduce this phenomenon.
  • Another possibility of treatment is hypnosis because it can deal with the emotional factors which can cause bruxism.

Any questions regarding the treatment of teeth grinding?