Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

What is it?

Bruxism (teeth grinding) is a condition involving grinding or clenching of the teeth, often during sleep. Bruxism can be mild and occasional or can be so frequent or violent that the teeth are damaged.

What are the causes?

No one knows for certain why some children grind their teeth. Some think that it is because the child's top and bottom teeth do not fit together comfortably. This discomfort causes the child to grind his teeth to make the teeth feel better and later turns into a bad habit. Others believe that children grind their teeth because they feel tense, fearful, or angry. Still others suggest that children could have an allergy or a nutritional problem. The cause in some cases is abnormal dental occlusion (the way the upper and lower teeth fit together when the person shuts the mouth). More often, the disorder is associated with anxiety, tension, and suppressed anger. Bruxism is usually worse after intake of alcohol.

What are the symptoms?

Teeth grinding, severe or very loud, that occurs during sleepjaw clenching Jaw pain or earache (referred pain caused by violent jaw muscle contractions) Abnormal alignment of teeth Anxiety, stress, and tension Personality, suppressing anger

How is the diagnosis made?

Examination will rule out other disorders that may cause similar jaw pain or ear pain, including ear disorders such as otitis media, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, and dental disorders. Detailed history may reveal abnormal stress or tension.

What is the treatment?

The goal of treatment is to prevent permanent damage to the teeth and reduce pain.A night guard or protective dental appliance may be helpful if bruxism is severe enough to cause damage to the teeth or pain to jaw muscles. Orthodontic adjustment of the occlusion or bite pattern may be beneficial for some people.Psychotherapy or counselling may help the afflicted person to express anger and deal with anxiety or stress. Relaxation or stress management techniques can be beneficial in reducing anxiety or stress. Avoidance of alcohol may be advised for some people.

What is the prognosis?

Bruxism is not a dangerous disorder. However, it can cause permanent damage to the teeth and uncomfortable jaw pain or ear pain.

What are the prevention?

Stress reduction and anxiety management may reduce bruxism in persons prone to the condition.

DoctorNDTV Team

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