If you have noticed pain, headaches or even teeth that seem to have worn down then you are probably grinding. Grinding is not part of normal chewing and must be treated as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage to the jaw joints (also known as the TMJ or temporomandibular joint)
The cause of grinding is different from person to person. It may be caused by:
- Stress, tension and anxiety
- Sleep disorders
- Abnormal anatomy of the teeth that cause an improper bite (example: high spots)
- Physical stress (example: chewing gum too much)
Often, individuals do not realise they are grinding until they begin to experience symptoms such as chronic tension headaches, flattened teeth surfaces or even broken teeth.
If you suspect that you have been grinding your teeth (while you’re alert or even sleeping) than it is essential to visit your Dentist as this will help you avoid further complications and lengthy treatments.
Your Dentist will usually recommend for you to wear an Occlusal splint (also known as night guards) to prevent further wearing down of teeth. Occlusal splints are custom made from a hard plastic to fit your upper or lower teeth. Patients with severe grinding will often use a combination of the splint and other treatments such as muscle relaxants. Both treatment options mentioned above increase an individuals comfort by eventually reducing or eliminating pain.