A hyperactivity of the masticatory muscle is called “teeth grinding (bruxism)”. Here, especially during night the teeth are subconsciously pressed together and sometimes move back and forth in a grinding movement. This grinding harms teeth and jaw on long term. It may lead to tense masticatory muscles, tooth pain as well as to an abraded chewing surface or crevices of tooth enamel. Teeth grinding mainly occurs at night. Only ten to 20 percent of people concerned know that they are teeth grinding. The rest gets informed by their dentist or partner.
Causes for teeth grinding
Actually, we only need our teeth during eating. In total about one hour per day. Teeth grinding or pressing mostly occurs during sleeping. Women are more concerned. Usually stress is leading to teeth grinding. Here, the body tries to process stress during night, the inner tension is transferred to the masticatory muscle and the muscle starts to work. Besides stress, a dysfunction in the chewing region might be another cause, a poorly fitting dental prosthesis or a dental filling too high, for example. Functional disturbances of the mandibular joint might cause teeth grinding as well.
Effects of teeth grinding
- Obliquely abraded chewing surface
- Gum bleeding
- Tense masticatory muscles
- Crevices of tooth enamel
- Regression of the gums
- Tooth imprints on the edge of the tongue
- In the worst case, teeth grinding might lead to a loosening of the teeth or even to tooth loss.
- Furthermore, inflammation and irreparable harm in the mandibular joint might arise.
- Due to the strong activity of the masticatory muscles headache, tensions in back and neck, visual disturbances, sleep disturbances, tiredness and exhaustion might arise.
Teeth grinding of babies and children
Teeth grinding of babies often is normal, since they just get to know their teeth. Normally, the grinding should stop when all milk teeth are complete. But with infants and children too, stress might be the reason for teeth grinding. Often, without any apparent reason. Call the attention of your child when the grinding occurs during daytime because they often don’t realize the grinding. Seek medical advice when the teeth grinding lasts for a longer period of time or when your child is having toothache.
Of course it makes sense to relieve stress with relaxation exercises as well as to get to know the personal stress triggers and to eliminate them as far as possible. In case of tensions of the masticatory muscles or of toothache consult your dentist. The dentist checks your teeth and adjusts poorly fitting dental prosthesis or improper fillings, if necessary. This might already be the solution.
If your problems don’t cease, think about using a mouth guard. These guards prevent grinding and support an evenly spread pressure distribution. But, these guards don’t easy the tension of the mandibular joint. The musculature of the jaw and the neck can be eased with massage, relaxation exercises and work with the fascial tissue.
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