Whether it is an involuntary action or just a bad habit, grinding your teeth (bruxism) can lead to serious complications. Unfortunately for a majority of cases bruxism occurs as a subconscious act whilst people are sleeping.
There are multiple factors which can lead to bruxism:
If patients suffer from an abnormal bite, where the teeth do not come together properly or you have crooked or missing teeth this can lead to bruxism.
Some psychotropic drugs which alter peoples mood; such as antidepressants or/psychotics, have a side effect of bruxism. Similarly people who smoke or drink excessively or take drugs can develop bruxism.
People who experience lifestyle stressors account for the majority of bruxism cases. Anxiety from work or at home can manifest itself subconsciously through bruxism when the person is sleeping. Continued teeth grinding wears away the enamel on your teeth and can lead to permanent damage.
The long and short terms symptoms include:
Short term – Earache, stiffness/tightness in the shoulders, facial muscle ache, jaw ache and headaches
Long term – Worn/cracked teeth, teeth sensitivity and temporomandibular joint disorder (discomfort and stiffness in the jaw)
There are several ways to control the effects of bruxism, some can be worn during the night to prevent grinding, however some individuals may require further treatments.
A mouth guard, similar to the ones used by sportsmen and women, is a flexible rubber shield which covers the teeth to prevent grinding. Mouth splints are made out of hard plastic and are specifically made to fit over you upper and lower teeth to prevent grinding at night.