What used to be found most commonly among women in their 20's and 30's is becoming far more prevalent in the population, including children early in adolescence. Involuntary teeth grinding, or Bruxism, is thought to be a stress induced response resulting in irreparable damage. Over time, grinding can degrade the outer layers of teeth prompting rapid decay and loss.
Who does Bruxism affect?
Bruxism commonly occurs during sleep when persons are unaware of the behavior and is widely believed to be a stress induced response. Dental professionals believe that the increased cases are a result of the rising stress levels among our population. In many cases, teeth grinding has been found among children as young as 12 and thirteen years old.
What can teeth grinding do?
Repeated grinding of the teeth will gradually wear down enamel and dentine causing increased pain, sensitivity, and more rapid decay. If left untreated, Bruxism can lead to headaches, aching jaw, earache, shoulder stiffness, disrupted sleep, and inflamed or receding gums. More severe cases can actually result in temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) which causes popping, stiffness, and spasms around the jaw.
Is there a treatment for Bruxism?
A variety of methods are employed to prevent additional damage from teeth grinding including pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, anxiety medications, and dental appliances. The most important course of treatment for Bruxism is educating the patient so that they are aware and can work to prevent grinding. Sometimes, appliances called occlusal splints are worn at night to prevent teeth grinding during sleep.