WHAT IS BRUXISM?
Bruxism is a habit during which you grind your teeth or clench or thrust your jaw forward over
and over again.
This habit can affect your oral health. It can cause teeth to break or crack, and increase the
chance of gum problems. Adults are not the only ones affected. Research has found that this
can be a problem in children as young as preschool age.
Researchers still do not know for sure what causes people to grind or clench their teeth. Some think stress could be a factor but often there are multiple factors which contribute to this condition. In fact, the latest research suggests a relationship between sleep apnea (a serious sleep disorder where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep) and bruxism. In preschoolers, research reports an association between grinding their teeth or clenching their jaws and signs of stress such as anxiety or social withdrawal.
Older children also can develop this habit when they are losing their baby teeth and their permanent teeth are coming in.
Nail biting also may lead to grinding of teeth or jaw clenching. Some children outgrow this, but often adults who grind their teeth or clench their jaws did so as children. Like many habits, people may not be aware that they grind or clench their teeth. You may even do it in your sleep. Tobacco and alcohol use may increase the chances of such destructive habits during sleep.
Large amounts of caffeine (8 or more cups of coffee a day) may also increase this risk. Some medications or illegal drugs may also one to thrust their jaws as well.
Consult with a dentist if you experience any of the following:
- Jaw Pain
- Headaches or facial muscle aches when you wake up
- Teeth sensitivity to hot or cold drinks or food
- Frequent chipped teeth or filling
- Pain in front of the ear when opening or closing the mouth
Your dentist will perform a thorough examination, including any medications and personal history which may contribute to jaw disorders. Your dentist may prescribe medications and/or an oral appliance such as a mouthguard. The appliance may help to reduce grinding, clenching, thrusting, which may, in turn, protect your teeth and gums from the excessive and destructive forces.
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