Do you grind or clench your teeth when you're sleeping, stressed or at other times? Involuntary teeth grinding is known as bruxism, and it can affect people of all ages.
If bruxism isn't treated, it may cause headaches, jaw pain and eventually tooth damage or tooth loss. However, there is no single treatment for teeth grinding. Your dentist will recommend treatments or home remedies depending on the cause and symptoms.
Dental splint or night guard
A common therapy for sleep bruxism is wearing a custom-fitted dental splint over your teeth at night. These fit over the teeth similar to a sports mouthguard and prevent the upper and lower arches from coming into contact.
Generic bite splints are available over the counter from certain stores, but a splint that's custom made by your dentist to fit your mouth and jaw can be more effective and more comfortable to wear.
A bite splint can help to relieve bruxism symptoms and may eventually condition your teeth and jaws to stop grinding or clenching, but other steps are usually needed to address the root cause of the problem.
Teeth straightening treatments
Teeth are more likely to grind together if they don't fit together normally. This may be due to an orthodontic issue, such as crooked or crowded teeth or misaligned jaws, or a dental issue, such as worn, damaged, uneven or missing teeth.
Depending on your individual case, your dentist may recommend:
- Dental crowns to repair, reshape or strengthen teeth
- Orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth using braces or aligners
- Replacing missing teeth with dental implants, bridges or dentures
Teeth grinding during the day is often related to stress or anxiety. Your dentist may be able to offer advice for stress reduction techniques or they may refer you to another qualified health professional who can help you.
Therapies that some people find effective for reducing stress-related bruxism include:
- Meditation or yoga
- Talking to a therapist or counsellor
- Jaw relaxation exercises
- General exercise or physical therapy
Other lifestyle changes
A number of everyday factors can contribute to teeth grinding, from your diet to bad habits. Addressing these will lower your bruxism risk and may be enough to stop it altogether. Recommendations include:
- Avoid or cut down on caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use
- Don't chew gum or objects such as pencils, ice cubes or fingernails
- Talk to your doctor if medication you're taking may be causing teeth grinding as a side effect
- Hold a warm cloth against your cheek before sleeping to relax your jaw muscles
Bruxism treatment in Everton Park and Mitchelton
If you or your child suffer from teeth grinding or clenching, book an appointment at your local Swish Dental clinic in Brisbane. Our experienced dentists will examine your teeth and jaws and ask about your symptoms so we can determine whether a bite splint or other treatment would be most effective for you.