Teeth Grinding

Teeth Grinding Treatment

How is teeth grinding treated?

The treatment for buxism (teeth grinding) includes, as well as behavioural therapy, the use of mouth splints and mouth guards.  There are other treatments that focus on muscle relaxation and sleep hygiene methods that might also be helpful in managing the symptoms.

Treatment with Mouth splints and mouth guards

If you do grind your teeth while you sleep then it might be necessary for you to wear a mouth guard or a mouth splint at night. These treatments are designed to even out the pressure throughout the jaw as well as forming a physical barrier between the lower and upper teeth to prevent damage from grinding. They will also minimise the noise that grinding your teeth makes while you are sleeping. The guards themselves are very similar to the ones that are used by people who play sports to protect their teeth.  They are made from a type of pliable rubber and can be made by your dentist specifically to fit your mouth. You will usually have to pay for this appliance. You can buy them over the counter but these will not be such a good fit. The mouth splint is made from hard plastic and fits with precision over the lower and upper teeth. The mouth splint is no more effective than a mouth guard in reducing bruxism symptoms. They will be more expensive but will also last for years while a mouth guard will not be expected to last more than a year. Neither of these devices will cure the condition but should help to reduce muscle activity - and the symptoms.

Treatment of the underlying cause of bruxism

Psychological treatments are often used to treat any underlying stress or anxiety that might be leading to tooth grinding, aiming to help manage problems by changing thinking. Getting a good night's sleep is vital. There are some things you can do to help:

  • Reading
  • Deep breathing
  • Having a bath
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Listening to music

Breaking the bad habit

Reversal techniques for established habits may help to break a habit although there is no evidence to suggest that it will break a tooth grinding habit. Recording how many times you grind your teeth in the day will help you to identify triggers like concentrating or stress. Being aware of your habit will help you to develop techniques to avoid it.

Treating and preventing problems with your teeth

You should have regular dental check ups if you have a tooth grinding habit so that any potential problems can be caught early or prevented. A tooth that is cracked through tooth grinding might develop an abscess leading to the need for root canal work to be done. Your tooth might crack in two in severe circumstances and will have to be removed. Reconstructive dental work can restore the look and function of a tooth but may be expensive and obviously needs to be done when you are no longer likely to grind your teeth.

Symptoms of tooth grinding include:

  • Facial muscle pain (myalgia)
  • Headache
  • Earaches
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • The jaw joint and surrounding muscles may ache
  • Disruption of sleep for you and your partner

In the mouth:

  • Worn teeth, leading to short teeth,
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Possible loss of teeth
  • Fractured fillings or teeth
  • Difficulty opening your mouth

Tooth wear only occurs in severe cases of bruxism - not every person who grinds their teeth will have it.
When you need to see your dentist

  • You have worn, damaged or sensitive teeth
  • Your jaw, face or ear are painful
  • Your partner constantly complains about the grinding sound you make in your sleep.

Your dentist will check your teeth and offer advice on how to deal with the problem.

Sleep disorders

As well as stress studies have shown that other causes of tooth grinding are sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea where sufferers are thought to grind their teeth when they are asleep.

Other possible pre cursors of tooth grinding are:

  • If you mumble or talk or in your sleep
  • If you behave violently while asleep - punching or kicking out
  • If you suffer from you sleep paralysis  - a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up.
  • If you experience hallucinations when in a semi conscious state

Tooth grinding as a result of taking certain medications

Some psychotropic medicines that affect your mood, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics have been associated with tooth grinding.

Lifestyle influences

Certain lifestyle factors might add to the chances that you will develop bruxism:

  • Drinking excessive amount of alcohol  
  • Smoking
  • Recreational drug use e.g. cocaine and ecstasy
  • Drinking six or more caffeinated drinks, such as coffee or tea

Children who grind their teeth

About one in five children grind their teeth usually up to the age of eleven although that figure may be higher as some children might grind their teeth at night without their parents being aware of the fact.  It will often occur after the first teeth come in and then may begin again when their permanent teeth come in.

What are the causes of teeth grinding in children?

The causes of teeth grinding in children will be similar to that of adults, stressful times at school or anxiety about other things or sleep problems.

If you need help with teeth grinding either as an adult or for a child, then Dentists Near Me will be able to offer you a choice of dental professionals at a location convenient to you.