Teeth Clenching & Grinding

Bruxism is the clinical name for teeth clenching grinding. It has a vast array of symptoms which can, at a more serious level, cause some severe impositions on the quality of life of the sufferer. More obvious symptoms are damage to enamel, cracked teeth & unexplained jaw pain upon waking up, but the most crippling symptoms are the headaches, migraines and neck pain. The majority of these symptoms are often overlooked as they are not usually associated with a dental issue and therefore go untreated. Bruxism can also get worse during stressful times such financial difficulties or during periods of anxiety and is more common in those aged over 25 but everyone will grind their teeth occasionally.

The simplest way to explain bruxism is; whilst we are asleep, some of us talk, some of us snore and approximately 80% of us grind or clench our teeth. This may start later on in life or may have been occurring repeatedly for a while but it can lead to more complicated issues such as migraines and neck pain. Due to the nature of bruxism, it can be easily overlooked by a regular GP as a TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorder or facial myalgia (Atypical Facial Pain).

The correct clinical explanation for bruxism, and the odd pains it causes, is fairly simple. They have one commonality, the Trigeminal Nerve System. When muscles start causing your teeth to clench or start commanding your jaw to grind, the trigeminal nerve can be overloaded with neurological impulses and if compromised, causes noxious stimulus in the fluid surrounding the brain which then causes headaches and migraines.

There are dental appliances that are clinically proven to effectively treat bruxism. At Birchgrove Dental Practice we offer a fully comprehensive diagnosis and dependable treatment which can give you relief from the headaches and other unpleasant symptoms of bruxism. Whilst full dental arches were frequently used, we offer CereZen, this is an in-ear anti-tooth clenching device, treating jaw pain, headaches and facial tension. This product is discreet and customised for each patient. This has proved an excellent treatment option to relieve symptoms of tooth clenching and grinding with a high success rate.

Symptoms of bruxism manifest in many ways; some short term and some long lasting. Other symptoms normally require a trip to the dentist, especially if irreversible damage such as chipping has occurred. Unfortunately, many symptoms are not commonly associated with an underlying dental issue so the cause often goes untreated. If your partner tells you that you were grinding your teeth then it is a good idea to get your teeth looked at professionally to check for signs and symptoms of bruxism.

Short-term symptoms of bruxism:

Headaches and migraines
Aching jaw and facial muscles – clinically known as facial myalgia and diagnosed as Atypical Facial Pain
Tinnitus – ringing of the ear or ears
Earaches
Nasal and sinus pain
Stiff neck muscles
Restriction of jaw movement
Fatigue – due to the lack of decent sleep
Fractured teeth and fillings
Sore, inflamed gums
Loose teeth
Lost teeth

Long-term effects:

Recurring migraines
Changes in facial muscle tone – Usually excessive
TMJ – Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Clicking of the jaw or a “popping” sensation
Wearing down of teeth
Tooth loss

Overall, bruxism can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy set of teeth. Bruxism can apply pressure of up to 40 times that of when you chew or eat and because this occurs whilst sleeping, the brain doesn’t receive the signals telling it the mouth is in pain. Teeth should last a lifetime of normal eating and chewing but bruxism can cause irreversible damage if left untreated as well as a multitude of non-dental symptoms. One of the first signs that you may be a bruxism sufferer is shortened front teeth but more severe symptoms can include enamel loss at the gum, receding gums, cracked enamel and damage to previous restorative surgeries such as crowns, fillings and bridges. In some of the worst cases of bruxism, bony exostosis can occur. This is the formation of a new bone on the surface of another and can cause discomfort or even crippling pain.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact us and book an appointment.