Teeth grinding, scientifically known as bruxism, is a condition where an individual clenches their jaw and grinds their teeth together, whether consciously or unconsciously. This common dental issue can lead to damage, discomfort, and even pain, making it essential to be aware of its implications.
Nighttime Bruxism: A Widespread Phenomenon, Especially in Children
While some people may grind their teeth subconsciously during the day, most instances of teeth grinding occur during sleep, predominantly affecting children. It is often perceived as something children will outgrow, yet many individuals experience periods of bruxism without it being a constant throughout their lives.
Identifying Teeth Grinding and Seeking Professional Diagnosis
Diagnosing teeth grinding is vital, and your dentist can play a key role in identifying the condition. If you wake up with jaw pain or fatigue, your dentist may examine you for signs of teeth grinding, such as excessive tooth wear or enlarged jaw muscles. Other indications include waking up with unexplained headaches or tooth sensitivity, and in some cases, it may even be evident through an audible grinding noise, noticed by a sleep partner or parent.
The Importance of Seeking Treatment for Teeth Grinding
Addressing teeth grinding promptly is crucial because, over time, it can cause significant damage to your teeth. Teeth may crack, become loose, or wear down, potentially exposing the vulnerable layers beneath the enamel, making them more susceptible to decay.
Other Effects of Bruxism and Potential Causes
In addition to dental damage, bruxism can lead to dull headaches, facial pain, ear discomfort, and jaw issues, such as pain, stiffness, clicking, or locking. While the precise causes of bruxism are not entirely known, it has been associated with stress, sleep apnea, loud snoring, and certain anti-depressant medications.