Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Do You Grind Your Teeth? What You Need to Know

Tooth grinding, Bruxism, is very common, especially in children. The majority of people who grind their teeth while sleeping are completely unaware that they are doing it. There are signs that can tell you if you grind your teeth and if you think you do, you need to visit your dentist to discuss the preventative measures available to reduce the risk of serious damage in the long run.

Some of the signs that you may be suffering from Bruxism is headaches, jaw pain when you wake up and chipped tooth enamel. For many, the first time they have any idea that they grind their teeth while asleep, is when someone tells them. You may have no idea; stay over at a friend for the night and the next morning they tell you that you kept them awake with the grinding.

Why people grind their teeth is inconclusive, according to Dr Tariq Drabu, a leading dentist and specialist oral surgeon in the United Kingdom.  Some studies suggest that it is central nervous system related and is linked to smoking, genetics, alcohol consumption, sleep patterns and stress and anxiety.

It is important that you know that tooth grinding on its own isn’t harmful, but the damage it does is where the concern comes into play. Bruxism can lead to serious dental problems ranging from tooth wear to jaw tenderness. The jaw muscles can swell, the tongue can indent and if left untreated it can result in more serious consequences.

When tooth grinding is ignored and left untreated, it can lead to ear ache, congestion, cracked teeth and even loose teeth. The damage to the teeth can be permanent. Dr Tariq Drabu advised that many people don’t realise how dangerous tooth grinding is to their overall oral health. They think it’s an inconvenience and something that frustrates their partner, but they don’t realise that they are causing serious dental damage that may be irreversible.

The good news if you find out that you are grinding your teeth in your sleep is there are treatments available to help reduce the grinding and protect your teeth moving forward. Be aware that Bruxism cannot be cured, but it can be treated to reduce long term damage.

Dentists usually provide one or two or two treatments, depending on the severity of the tooth grinding. The first is they will have a mouth guard moulded to your mouth which you wear while asleep. The mouth guard allows you to grind, but prevents wearing on the teeth. While this reduces oral damaged caused by Bruxism, it doesn’t help treat the actual disorder, which still leads to jaw pain and muscle weakness and headaches.

The second treatment solution is medication. There are some medications available that can help reduce the grinding, helping alleviate all the other symptoms such as a painful jaw, ear ache, headaches and more.

Tariq Drabu stated that patients who think they may be suffering from tooth grinding should make an urgent appointment with their dentist as soon as possible. They can discuss the treatment options available, which can be based on the severity of Bruxism and the damage already caused.

Regular dental appointments are essential when you suffer from Bruxism, don’t miss your routine appointments. Routine appointments are an opportunity for your dentist to identify if there are any oral problems that require urgent treatment. When you grind your teeth, you can wear the teeth and enamel considerable and this needs to be watched closely by the dental professional to ensure the treatment you have been given is working and is helping prevent further damage moving forward.

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