Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Bruxism is clenching or grinding of the teeth. The cause is not completely understood; however, emotional stress seems to be the major trigger. It most often occurs during sleep and affects 50-95% of the population. Bruxism causes chips in the teeth, wear of the biting surfaces, notching of the root surface (abfraction), gum recession, and cracks in the teeth. The extraordinarily high pressure exerted by bruxing also ruins dental work. This type of dental damage is termed occlusal disease.
Over time, bruxing abrades the enamel, leaving short, blunted teeth. If enough enamel is lost, the softer dentin will be exposed, which will accelerate the abrasion and may make the teeth sensitive. Bruxism can also lead to muscle soreness, headaches, and clicking or pain in the joint of the jaw called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. Most people are unaware of their bruxism, and only 5-10% will develop symptoms.
There is no cure for bruxism; however, ongoing management consists of wearing a splint or night guard, which will prevent the wear of tooth surfaces, reduce muscle pain, alleviate headaches, decrease tooth sensitivity, prevent permanent joint damage, and lessen clenching behavior.