Bruxism (Teeth Grinding/Clenching)

Teeth grinding, or Bruxism is excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth that is not a part of normal chewing movements. It can lead to excessive wear on the teeth and may cause permanent damage to the teeth and the jaw joints. Most people aren’t even aware they are grinding their teeth until their partners tell them or advanced symptoms emerge – such as jaw pain, headaches and aching teeth. Cause of Bruxism
A combination of physical and psychological factors are believed to contribute to Bruxism

    • Physical stress such as illness, nutritional deficiencies or dehydration, particularly in children
    • Psychological stress, anxiety and tension in adults and children
    • Some studies have shown that night Bruxism is a sleep disorder

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

  • Aching teeth and stiffness in the face and temples, particularly after you’ve just woken up.
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Tension headaches, caused by intense muscle contraction
  • Flattened and worn tooth surfaces
  • Microfractures of the tooth enamel
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Stiffness and pain in the jaw joint muscles, this can cause restricted opening and difficulty chewing.
  • Earache and pain in the jaw joint.

Bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching)

Treatment of Bruxism

  • Remove the causes of Bruxism, stress management or relaxation methods.
  • Manage some of the symptoms with anti-inflammatories and hot packs.
  • Change the behavior that causes it. This aims to teach the patient how to rest the mouth – An occlusal splint (also called a night guard) may be an option for mild to severe cases. The splint is made of hard plastic that fits over the upper or lower teeth and prevents further damage to the teeth.
  • Repair the damage to teeth.

Like with many conditions, identifying and managing Bruxism early is preferable. Continual clenching and grinding of your teeth can cause your teeth to chip and develop fractures. If a lot of the tooth chips or the fracture progresses very far the tooth, you may need root canal treatment or the tooth may need to be removed. As the teeth wear down and become shorter and flatter, it can be a costly exercise to rebuild back up again. A splint or night guard is a good way of reducing the damage from teeth grinding.

Bruxism can cause your teeth to be sensitive and tender. It may also cause your jaw muscles or jaw joints to be sore, feeling like a headache. If you have any concerns that you are grinding or clenching your teeth, or would like to fix the damage caused by teeth grinding, it is best to see your dentist who can discuss and manage your concerns.


Teeth Worn down by Grinding

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Dr Henry Wong is a local dental graduate, having done his studies at the University of Queensland. He has had over 10 years of practical experience, providing a wide range of services in the various fields of dentistry. He has a strong interest in Orthodontics (braces) and has an affinity treating young patients. Henry regularly attends a range of continuing education courses, and is very much up to date with his continuing professional development requirements.   Dr Henry is a long term member of the ADA (Australian Dental Association). He has also been involved with RAWCS (Rotary Australia World Community Service), in a charity project that provides much needed dental treatment to villages in Nepal. He has also provided volunteer work in Brisbane through the National Dental Foundation.   Dr Henry enjoys spending time with his family and young daughter. They are often the reluctant subjects one of his other interests; photography. He likes to unwind by listening to comedy podcasts and tending to his growing collection of indoor plants.