Funny thing how those medical terms like “bruxism” never really catch on with the regular vernacular. You’re probably more familiar with the term “teeth grinding,” but what you may not know is how it can damage your tooth enamel if left untreated.
Bruxism, as noted on the condition’s Wikipedia page, comes from the Greek root βρύκειν, which means “bite/gnash.” It is the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, although for many people, it’s involuntary. Here are some other interesting facts about Bruxism:
You may not be aware you have it. Many people who suffer from bruxism grind their teeth while they sleep. You may not notice you’re doing it, but your sleeping partner likely will. As will your dentist (we’ll get to that in a bit).
You may produce an audible noise, and you may not. Some people audibly grind their teeth. Others do not.
You may do it regularly and you may not. The frequency at which people grind their teeth varies. Some will do it consistently, others only on occasion — such as during times of stress.
You may experience pain in different areas. Bruxism can affect you in a number of different ways. You could experience a headache, and earache or even a toothache. Your facial muscles could become sore.
Your abnormal bite may cause bruxism. If your jaws do not fit together properly, grinding may result, whether you’re stressed or not. A number of “high spots” may occur on your teeth, and dental work on your biting surface may be required.
You may be suffering from stress. You may be calm and cool on the outside, but stress can cause bruxism to surface at night. While a dentist can treat the symptoms and the wear on your enamel, you may have to consider solving the root cause of the stress to reduce the effects of bruxism.
Your dentist may be the first person to notice. If you’re a “silent” grinder, the first person to notice you suffer from bruxism may be your dentist. Teeth grinding can wear away at the enamel of your teeth. It can affect dental restorations, and may even loosen your teeth.
You could become sensitive to temperature changes and pressure. As you’re probably starting to realize, bruxism can affect people in different ways. If the tooth enamel gets worn away, the underlying level of dentin could become exposed, and your teeth can become more sensitive to temperature changes and pressure.
You can develop bruxism at any age. Many children grind their teeth, and that’s normal. However, the ADA notes that colds, ear infections and other allergies may cause increased grinding. When your child starts to experience pain, that’s when you’ll know the grinding requires a visit to the dentist.
You may require a mouthguard. One of the most effective ways to treat the symptoms of bruxism is through the use of a nightguard. This is similar to a mouthguard used by athletes, but it’s made of soft material and custom-fit to your jawline.
Bruxism rates for the general population range from 8 to 30 percent, and include a number of different degrees of severity. If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned in this post, be sure to let your dentist know. And keep those dental appointments regular. Remember, we’re the people who tend to spot bruxism first.
Source: American Dental Association