Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding or teeth clenching. Occasional bruxism is nothing to be alarmed about, but the condition becomes problematic with the teeth grinding occurs regularly. Grinding or clenching of the teeth often occurs during sleep. In most cases, it is caused by missing or crooked teeth or an abnormal bite. Anxiety and stress may also be directly or indirectly associated with teeth grinding.
Chronic teeth grinding has many negative implications to your teeth. With your teeth being constantly subjected to the force of your bite, grinding may wear the teeth down and cause it to become prone to fracturing. It also loosens teeth, which eventually leads to tooth loss. Myofascial muscle pain is also a common result of teeth grinding, as well as persistent headaches and TMJ dysfunction. Grinding your teeth also abrades and weakens the enamel often causing the dentin to be exposed, making the teeth more susceptible to dental decay and fracture. Some people also experience gum recession, along with other complications associated with chronic bruxism like arthritis of the temporomandibular joints.
Teeth grinding often occurs during sleep, which is why most people remain unaware of the habit until it is pointed out to them by a loved one or until they experience telltale signs like sore jaw, and dull, but constant headaches. Having your teeth, mouth, and jaw examined by a dentist can help you determine whether teeth grinding has any impact on your teeth and/or TMJ.
Teeth grinding can be corrected by wearing a night guard during sleep. Dental guards or splints significantly reduce tooth abrasion and reduce muscle strain by constraining the teeth grinding pattern, which also helps reduce damage to the TMJ. Other ways to prevent or stop teeth grinding include relieving stress, taking muscle relaxants, and cutting back on stimulants like caffeine, chocolates, and colas. Since bruxism is more of a habit than a dysfunction, restraining yourself from chewing things apart from food (pencil, gum, etc.) also helps reduce the condition.