Bruxism and ‘Teeth Grinding’

Bruxism, or commonly referred to as tooth grinding, is the clenching together of the bottom and upper jaw accompanied by the grinding of the lower set of teeth with the upper set.

Bruxism affects approximately 10 – 50 % of the population. Bruxism is a subconscious behavior and many people do not realize that they are doing it.

Although it can occur during the waking hours, bruxism most frequently occurs while we sleep. During sleep the biting force (the force at which the jaws clench together) can be up to six times greater than during waking hours. Consequently, significant damage is likely to occur.

The results of Bruxism

The muscles used to chew food are the same ones responsible for bruxism. Consequently these muscles often feel sore or tender in the morning.

  • Bruxism can lead to pain and cause damage to teeth, gums and other parts of the mouth.
  • Tightness of the jaw.
  • Headaches, ear-aches or neck pain.
  • As the enamel of the tooth is worn away by bruxism the underlying dentin layer of the tooth is exposed. This causes the tooth to become sensitive to cold, pressure and other stimuli.
  • The high pressure created from bruxism can fracture teeth and crack fillings.
  • Bruxism can cause damage to the temperomandibular joint. This is the “hinge” which connects the lower jaw to the upper jaw allowing use to chew and talk.

How to Treat Bruxism

  • If you suspect that you suffer from bruxism first see your dentist.
  • Stress is thought to play an important role in causing this condition, along with feelings of anxiety, anger and pain.
  • Hypnotherapy and working with a psychologist has been found to significantly decrease levels of teeth grinding due to factors related to stress.
  • Treatment of bruxism can involve behavior modification, stress management therapy and hypnosis.

Insight is happy to offer Alberta residents a variety of treatment options for bruxism. Find an office near you.