What can be done to prevent tooth grinding?
Tooth grinding, often accompanied by the clenching of the jaw,is known in dentistry as Bruxism (from the Greek ‘brugmós’, gnashing of teeth). Bruxism is an oral activity that occurs in most humans at some time in their lives. In most people, bruxism is mild enough not to be a health problem. While bruxism may be a day or nighttime activity, it is bruxism during sleep which causes the majority of health issues. It can lead to wear and fractures of teeth, muscle pain and other surprising symptoms.
Common symptoms of bruxism include:
- Jaw, neck, shoulder and back pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Poor sleep
- Earache and sinus pain
- Wearing and fracturing of teeth
Discuss with your dentist if you suspect you may be grinding or suffer any of these conditions. Though there is a range of therapies for associated muscular pain, occlusal splints are a device used to assist with the relief of bruxism and breaking of this habit. Splints are devices which fit comfortably into the mouth to prevent tooth grinding. They may also help switch off your grinding with time, as they confuse your reflexive instinct where your teeth should naturally meet. If you continue to grind it will be plastic that is sacrifices, not your teeth. The forces on you muscles will be less (because of the effect of putting a block in a hinge), so your muscles will be less overworked. They can be worn during the day or night and are long lasting. Splints are available in a variety of types and materials. Visit your dentist to discuss what type of splint and joint therapy will meet your needs.