What causes teeth grinding in adults
Teeth grinding or Bruxism during sleep is generally associated with stress and anxiety in about 70% of cases. It can be simply due to an abnormal alignment between upper and lower teeth known as a malocclusion or even due to a lack of support in the posterior region of the mouth when the patient has missing teeth.
It can also be associated with Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) which is a sleep disorder with interrupted breathing patterns. Both adults and children can be affected but adults of the ages of 25 to 44 are thought to be the most affected.
Bruxism is also thought to be associated more with certain personality types with those of an aggressive, competitive or hyperactive nature most at risk.
Regular drinkers of alcohol and smokers as well as those that regularly take recreational drugs such as ecstasy or cocaine have an increased risk of teeth grinding. Teeth grinding is also sometimes caused by taking antipsychotic or antidepressant medication such as the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors one of which ”Citalapram” is particularly widely used in the UK.
Teeth clenching during the day is thought to be a form of coping with a particular situation or stressful event while some people find that clenching their teeth may help them concentrate at a particular job in hand. From personal experience I notice myself clenching my jaws during particularly difficult or testing dental procedures.
What are some teeth grinding symptoms
Quite often teeth grinding causes no symptoms for the patient but is noticed by the dentist through features seen in the mouth during a routine dental examination. When symptoms are noticed in those that regularly grind their teeth they are usually pain or soreness in the teeth, jaws or even in the face.
Patients that grind their teeth often awaken their partners because the noise they make is so loud. Other symptoms include flattening, fracturing or even loosening of teeth with wear of the teeth been so extreme that it can lead to a non-decayed tooth to split straight down the middle or in milder cases, for cusps of teeth to fracture off. Other symptoms frequently reported are headaches on waking up or earaches with general muscle tension in the jaw, temple or neck. Persistent cheek biting and indentations on the sides of the tongue are also relevant symptoms of this habit.
What are the effects of teeth grinding
Teeth grinding ultimately not only causes pain in the form of headaches, toothache and muscle aches but more importantly it causes loss of tooth substance or complete loss of the tooth in extreme cases which requires time effort and expense to treat. Persistent cheek biting and the keratinisation of the cheek tissue over it is thought to be a precursor in some people to the development oral cancer in older age.
Sometimes patients develop pain and even a scraping noise in the Tempro-mandibular joint with restriction in movement or even lock jaw where the patient is unable to open the mouth widely and this is known as tempro-mandibular dysfunction which can be linked to teeth grinding.
Loss of tooth substance can lead to the need for restorations in the form of fillings or crowns with some cases needing root canal therapy beforehand. If a tooth is lost then a replacement with a denture, bridge or implant may be an option.
How can I prevent teeth grinding
There are a number of causes to teeth grinding and as dentists we concentrate on treating the symptoms and preventing further damage using various appliances, including nightguards. Obviously counselling of patients with regards to limiting the risk factors is a must while referral to therapists for behavioural and relaxation techniques is another option.
The appliances used can be either soft or hard covering the biting surfaces of all the teeth usually in one jaw to protect against further damage. Other appliances are available and are more specialised in that they are designed to inhibit or reduce the habit by placing the jaws in a particular position to each other or allowing contact only on the front teeth so that the back teeth do not make contact and the big jaw muscles are more relaxed.
If you find yourself suffering from any of the recognised teeth grinding symptoms above then do get in touch with us.