You have probably read about gnashing of the teeth. Authors from Mark Twain to Charles Dickens to the scribes of biblical times have referenced this popular idiom for an expression of extreme anger. But if you find yourself or a family member gnashing or grinding teeth, the more likely culprit is not anger, but stress.
bruxism, a word that comes from the Greek brychein which means to gnash the teeth
The medical term for teeth grinding or clenching is bruxism, a word that comes from the Greek brychein which means to gnash the teeth. Although there is not a firm consensus in the medical community regarding the exact causes of bruxism, it is widely thought that stress is a contributing factor in many cases.
Because bruxism frequently takes place during sleep, it can be tricky to identify the problem. Itis important to be aware of the symptoms. If you suspect that you or a family member is experiencing bruxism, schedule an appointment with us immediately. Because continuous teeth grinding can cause long-term damage, the sooner it is addressed, the better.
Signs of bruxism include:
Sensitivity in the teeth
Tightness or pain in the jaw
Dull headaches, earaches, or facial pain
Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth
Night grinding that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of those nearby
Adults and children alike are prone to teeth grinding
Adults and children alike are prone to teeth grinding, although in young children the habit tends to be age-related â€“ bruxism can coincide with the arrival of new teeth â€“ and in most cases is simply outgrown.
For children and adults suffering from bruxism, seek out signs of stress and take steps to alleviate anxiety, especially just before bedtime. Stretching exercises and massage, especially in the jaw area, can help. You can also try holding a warm washcloth or heated rice sack against the jaw to relieve tension.
Other ways to manage bruxism include:
Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
Relax right before bedtime with a warm bath or shower
Help your jaw learn to relax by quitting any chewing habits (pens, pencils, gum)
When clenching or grinding happens during the day, place your tongue between your teeth to serve as a reminder to avoid the habit
Teeth grinding can result in chipped teeth, worn enamel, and chronic pain
Although slight cases of bruxism do not cause permanent damage, severe or long-term moderate cases can result in chipped teeth, worn enamel, and chronic pain. Bruxism can also lead to or worsen temporomandibular jaw disorder (TMJ). If someone in your family is experiencing bruxism, schedule a visit to our office right away. We can check for damage, determine the severity of the situation, and recommend methods of managing the problem before long-term damage occurs.