What Is Teeth Grinding?
Teeth grinding is the act of gnashing, clenching, or grating your teeth together. When teeth grinding occurs on an occasional basis, it is usually harmless, but regular grinding can lead to headaches, facial pain, damaged teeth, gum sensitivity, earache, or pain in the jaw joint. The medical term for this condition is bruxism, and there are various teeth grinding treatments available which can combat it.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Those who grind their teeth are normally doing so unconsciously, as they are unaware that they are clenching their teeth. In these cases, bruxism is usually caused by anxiety, as patients will grind their teeth when they are under stress. Alternatively, teeth grinding can become a habit that people perform when they are concentrating, such as when they are working or studying. Finally, some people grind their teeth in their sleep, which is known as sleep bruxism.
Treatments We Offer
The first way in which you can try to combat bruxism is through adopting certain behavioural strategies. If you suspect that anxiety is prompting you to grind your teeth, consider using relaxation therapy to control your stress. Try yoga, mindfulness, or participate in some gentle exercise. In addition, avoiding stimulating substances, such as coffee, caffeinated tea, or alcohol can help to reduce teeth grinding. Alternatively, a dentist can provide you with a custom-made mouthguard. This inserts a plastic or rubber barrier between your teeth, which prevents you from grinding them together.
Botulinum Toxin (Botox)
You are probably familiar with Botox as a cosmetic treatment for the removal of wrinkles and fine lines. This is when botulinum toxin is inserted into the face to prevent the muscles from contracting, which, in turn, prevents the skin from creasing in such a way that creates wrinkles. However, botulinum toxin’s muscle-relaxing properties can also be used to treat various non-cosmetic conditions, from chronic migraine to teeth grinding. When Botox is used to treat bruxism, a small amount of botulinum toxin is injected into the masseter muscle, which is responsible for chewing. After 10 to 14 days have passed, the botox will begin to relax your jaw. This will prevent you from clenching your jaw involuntarily. Voluntary movements (such as talking, chewing, or facial expressions) will not be affected. This will also alleviate the tension headaches and pains that accompany teeth grinding. These results will last for approximately 3-6 months, after which time you will have to repeat the procedure to maintain the effects of the treatment.
Some medicines can help to relieve teeth grinding symptoms or treat them forever. A doctor can prescribe muscle relaxants, which are taken before bed to relax the jaw muscles and prevent sleep bruxism. Alternatively, if your teeth grinding is related to anxiety, a doctor may recommend the short-term use of anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants to treat the stress that is triggering the bruxism. Finally, painkillers such as ibuprofen can be used to relieve the unpleasant symptoms that are caused by teeth grinding, such as headaches or jaw pain. Please note, however, that painkillers will only relieve the symptoms of bruxism and will not prevent teeth grinding, and so they will not be able to protect your teeth from damage.
Teeth grinding is the act of pressing and mincing your teeth together. This is often performed unconsciously, and its symptoms include headaches, erosion of the tooth enamel, chipped or broken teeth, gum sensitivity, earache, and pain or stiffness in the jaw joint.
There are several risk factors for teeth grinding. A family history of the condition can make a person more prone to developing it. Lifestyle habits, such as poor sleep, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages, stress, or smoking can also be a factor. Additionally, a bite misalignment can trigger bruxism, as well as some forms of medication.
The first way in which you should try to tackle teeth grinding is by changing potentially harmful lifestyle habits. Try to reduce the amount of alcohol and coffee that you drink, and take part in activities that could reduce anxiety, such as yoga or mindfulness. If this is not effective, a Botox treatment can be used to treat teeth grinding.
It is very unlikely that teeth grinding will stop on its own. It is best to adopt behavioral strategies to combat it, or to get a mouthguard fitted, to prevent further damage to your teeth. If these strategies do not work, it is worth considering medical treatment.
Botox helps prevent bruxism by relaxing the jaw muscles, which stops you from clenching your teeth involuntarily. Importantly, the procedure does not stop you from moving your jaw voluntarily, and so you will be able to eat, speak and make facial expressions as normal.
When a Botox treatment is administered by a certified and experienced medical professional, side effects are rare. However, in some cases, Botox can cause swelling or redness at the injection site, though these symptoms will disappear shortly after the treatment. The procedure also has the potential to cause temporary drooping of the eyelid, though this can be avoided if the patient refrains from touching or massaging their face for six hours after the treatment, to prevent the botulinum toxin from moving.