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Teeth Grinding is a Vicious Cycle

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What are symptoms of teeth grinding?

Signs and symptoms include:

  • grinding sounds while the person is asleep
  • headache, jaw joint or ear pain
  • aching teeth, particularly just after waking up
  • aching and/or stiffness of the face and temples just after waking up
  • aching or stiffness in the jaws while chewing, particularly during breakfast
  • clenching the jaw when angry, anxious or concentrating
  • temperature-sensitive teeth
  • cracked or chipped tooth enamel
  • tooth indentations on the tongue
  • raised tissue on the inside of the cheek caused by biting
  • loose teeth.

What causes teeth grinding?

Many factors can trigger teeth grinding:

  • emotional stress, anger, anxiety
  • mental concentration
  • physical stress, illness, poor nutrition or long-term pain
  • some dental treatments, such as fillings that sit ‘too high’
  • drug use (particularly amphetamines)
  • when teeth are coming through in babies and children.

What are the dangers of teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding can lead to:

  • cracked tooth enamel
  • more wear and tear on the teeth than is normal
  • broken teeth or broken restorations (for example, fillings)
  • strain on the jaw joint (temporo-mandibular joint)
  • pain in the jaw joint or limited movement
  • sore jaw muscles
  • tooth loss (rare)
  • enlargement of the jaw muscles that can lead to square loony face.

What are the treatments for teeth grinding?

  • A long term treatment that has been shown to relax the muscle that is causing the teeth grinding problems. Treating the problem not the symptoms! 

  • a special mouthguard (‘bite splints’) to wear at night so that the guard is worn down instead of your teeth. In most cases, a bite splint will only help with the symptoms and will not stop you from grinding altogether.
  • repair of tooth damage
  • fixing fillings that are too high

Other treatments are also needed to manage teeth grinding including:

  • stress management therapy
  • relaxation techniques