Teeth grinding is a surprisingly common occurrence and often happens whilst asleep. Most people are therefore unaware that they are grinding and only come to realise it when their partner complains of the noise the following morning.
Other noticeable effects of grinding (bruxism) are:
- Ear ache
- Jaw pain
- Facial and neck pain
- Sleep disorder - both yourself and partner
- Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks
Why do we grind?
The most common reason for grinding is when we try and compensate for an imperfect bite. This is when the upper and lower jaw comes together but the teeth don’t seem to fit comfortably and you therefore try and force them into a perfect bite. Imagine chewing hard but with no food in your mouth.
You may also find that you suffer from jaw clenching, which if combined with grinding, will cause greater discomfort and damage to the teeth.
It is also thought that stress can lead to grinding although you may be equally unaware that you are doing so as it often happens during your sleep.
What are the consequences of grinding?
As you try to compensate for the imperfect bite you end up biting harder and thus causing damage to the enamel on your teeth. It becomes a vicious circle as you bite harder to try and make the teeth fit better you end up creating more damage to your teeth by initially wearing down the tooth’s enamel to gradually wearing down the tooth itself.
What can be done about it?
As most grinding occurs during your sleep, the most common solution is the use of a mouth guard called occlusal splint. This helps reduce the pressure of tooth grinding and helps prevent further damage to your teeth. It also helps relax the jaw muscles for chewing. Your dentist may also be able make adjustments to your teeth order to achieve a better bite and thus reduce the subconscious effort you are making
Naturally, if your grinding is a result from stress then you should learn relaxation techniques and stress management.