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Clenching and Grinding

Sleep Health Centre Albany Creek

Headache Prevention, Snoring, Sleep Disorders, Clenching and
Grinding, Jaw Joint Therapy, Breathe Well, Sleep Aponea

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Clenching and Grinding

Some people say they cannot be bruxing or clenching because they go to sleep with their teeth apart and mouth open.

This is all very well but once you fall asleep, your higher brain shuts down and your autonomic nervous system takes over and your muscle activity is out of your control.

Similarly, people say they can’t be bruxing and clenching because their partner says they snore. Every time you swallow, your jaw muscles contract and your teeth go together for anything from a second to a couple of minutes before relaxing again.

During this time, breathing stops! Usually a snorer cycles between snoring, swallowing, clenching, stopping breathing, opening mouth, gasping and starting snoring again.

People do this because they cannot breathe through their nose adequately so that enough oxygen gets in the blood and into the brain. The brain then switches to mouth breathing. Mouth breathing arouses the autonomic nervous system out of autopilot into primed mode.

Some people brux and dont wear away their teeth much. Other people dont put much force on their teeth but their teeth wear quickly. This is partly due to differences in enamel hardness but also, this is because of saliva quality.If the saliva is a bit acidic, the teeth will wear more easily.

Whilst bruxing can produce jawjoint dysfunction and wear teeth away, excessive vertical clenching forces produce headaches, migraines, sinus pain, chronic tooth sensitivity, jaw ache, stiff neck, auditory symptoms, vertigo and even back ache.

Eventually teeth wear away or break.

More commonly known as teeth grinding or clenching, bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity. It is classified as a habitual behaviour and sleep disorder. It can occur during waking hours but typically happens during sleep.

Bruxism affects millions of people all over the world. While it is true that most people at one point or another clench their teeth during sleep, there are people who do it so excessively and frequently that the nocturnal activity ends up damaging their teeth and harming their health.

Many bruxism sufferers may not even be aware of their sleeping disorder condition. Research has shown that only 5% of teeth clenchers actually present with any symptoms.

Albany Dental offers customised solutions like mouthguards and splints that are worn during sleep to relieve the pain, discomfort and wear caused by jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Our Brisbane dentists will be able to recommend the appropriate course of action to treat your specific problem, using solutions that take into consideration all the complexities of the condition.

Causes and Symptoms of Bruxism

Bruxism may be triggered by the following causes: Stress, sleeping habits, misaligned teeth, digestive ailments, heredity factors, posture, anxiety, posture and other varying factors. Doctors have differing opinions on what the actual causes are, but the stress factor appears to be one of the most commonly documented.

The causes behind childhood and adult bruxism are also different. While adult bruxism is generally blamed on a stressful lifestyle and eating/drinking habits, children with allergies and nutritional deficiencies are more prone to the disorder.

You may grind your teeth at night and not be aware of it. That’s because the symptoms of bruxism overlap with many dental and medical ailments.

In extreme cases, teeth clenching can lead to Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) and alter your facial appearance. Prolonged and excessive lateral teeth movement – with a sliding motion involving the temperomandibular joints – can lead to TMJ dysfunction.

If you are a habitual teeth grinder, the damage to your teeth may develop over time. Teeth clenching and grinding is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, occlusal trauma and gum recession.

Bruxism episodes may even aggravate teeth that have previously been worn down by a bad decay, rendering them more susceptible to collapsing from the repetitive pressure of the grinding. If untreated, early stage bruxism may develop into bigger problems –requiring more involved treatments like a root canal treatment or replacement crowns.

Some of the signs to look out for:

  • Severe tension headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Tooth fractures
  • Patterns of worn down teeth
  • Sore neck and back pains
  • Worn down restorative work

Diagnosis and Treatment

Dentists are in the best position to inspect your teeth for any evidence of nocturnal grinding. Even a hairline wear pattern may suggest weeks or months of the sleeping disorder. Long-term episodes of teeth gnashing often manifest in worn down teeth due to the grinding pressures.

During the consultation and examination stage, the dentist will ask a series of questions – eg. alcohol consumption, sleeping habits etc – to investigate possible causes, followed by an x-ray, where necessary. If stress or depression has been identified as triggers, you may be referred to a therapist.

If you have been identified as a bruxer, there are many treatment options that our dentist would be able to recommend. One of the simplest yet effective methods to reduce or eliminate bruxism lies in the use of customised mouth guards and splints.

The dental devices are worn over your teeth while you sleep, holding your jaw in a resting position such that they prevent your teeth from grinding. While the hard acrylic material of the splint is able to withstand excessive grinding and clenching, it is flexible enough to be worn comfortably throughout the night. Unlike over-the-counter mouth guards, our therapeutic devices are customised to your specific teeth structure so that they fit better and deliver optimum results.

At Albany Dental, we offer solutions that will alleviate your symptoms and protect your teeth from further damage. More importantly, we help to stem the disorder and prevent it from developing into more serious health conditions.

If you are suffering from bruxism or experiencing any of its associated symptoms, contact Albany Dental for a consultation today at (07) 3264 9590.

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