Teeth clenching and grinding are nocturnal habits in both children and adults. The medical term for this is “bruxism.” During teeth grinding, the jaws clamp down, and teeth shift back and forth. With teeth clenching, the jaws forcefully clamp over an extended period. Both clenching and grinding can cause extensive damage to the teeth and surrounding structures.
Risk Factors for Bruxism
Although this condition is extremely common and can affect anyone, some risk factors include:
- Age, children have a higher rate of grinding, while adults have a higher rate of clenching
- Stressful personality or stressful life events
- Certain medications or substances such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and psychiatric medications
- Health conditions such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy and ADHD
Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism
- When children grind at night, is it likely that a parent or guardian will hear the grinding noise
- Waking up with headaches
- Sore jaw and cheek muscles
- Pain with opening the jaw, clicking or cracking with opening and closing
- Teeth sensitivity
- Teeth wear, chips and fractures
- Worn down or shortened lower front teeth
How to Stop Daytime Bruxism
Unfortunately, stopping yourself from clenching or grinding your teeth during the day takes focus and mindfulness. Bruxism may be brought on by periods of stress, intense emotion, caffeine or alcohol. Be sure to reduce smoking, caffeine and alcohol consumption, reduce stress levels, and be aware to stop when you notice you have started. At night, a guard will be necessary to break the habit or provide cushioning between teeth.
What is a Night Guard?
There are several different varieties of night guards to help protect your teeth from wear. The main versions are a moderately soft plate that fits on the upper arch, a guard with a bite pad on the front to prevent the back teeth from touching, and a guard made with balls and clasps to avoid any teeth from biting down against each other. All night guards will protect your teeth, jaw and surrounding structures from damage and prevent pain. Talk with your dentist about which type of guard is best for you.
How is a Night Guard Made?
Impressions are taken of your upper and lower teeth and then sent out to a lab. The lab will fabricate the guard to fit precisely to your teeth and mouth, taking about a week to make. They are usually covered by dental insurance.
If you have any questions about bruxism or night guards, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.