Grinding or clenching of the teeth usually occurs when a person is asleep. Sometimes, it can also take place while a person is awake. The grinding noise can be quite noticeable to others who are nearby, even though the person does not realize he or she is doing it.
Clenching or grinding the teeth is a mechanism for release of emotional stress. When a person is awake, the action often occurs during anger, intense concentration, or physical exertion. The teeth grinding is unintentional and occurs at inappropriate times. The person is generally unaware of the teeth grinding.
Someone with teeth grinding may make noticeable grinding sounds during sleep. The individual's teeth may be sore, especially in the morning. Some of the other symptoms include: facial painheadachejaw dislocation or clickingstiff or sore jaw joints or muscles when chewing, especially in the morningteeth that are sensitive to brushing, and to hot or cold foodstense facial and jaw muscleswear on the teeth, with hairline cracking of the enamel coating
Emotional stress and certain personality types are associated with teeth grinding. People with anger, pain, or frustration may start grinding their teeth. Aggressive, hurried, or overly competitive people may also experience teeth grinding. The grinding can also be caused by an abnormal alignment of the teeth or jaw. It is sometimes connected to drug and alcohol use. Teeth grinding is common in children when their teeth are coming in.
Prevention and treatment of this condition are very similar. Treatment is aimed at stopping the habitual clenching or grinding of the teeth. A person should visit a dentist as soon as he or she is aware of this problem.
Prevention and treatment may include: bite modification procedures, sometimes called bite equilibrationbiofeedback therapymild sleeping aidsmouthguards to wear at nightmuscle relaxantsorthodontia, that is, special dental appliances such as bracesrepair of faulty dental crowns or restorationsreplacement of missing teethstress management counseling
Diagnosis of teeth grinding begins with a medical history and physical exam. Sometimes, a dentist is the first to discover the problem, by detecting certain changes when looking inside the person's mouth. The person may be totally unaware of the condition, especially in the early stages. Dental X-rays can show early damage to the bone as well as to the teeth.
If ignored or inadequately treated, teeth grinding can lead to the following serious complications: gingivitis, or gum inflammationloss of teethperiodontitis, or inflammation of tissue around the base of a toothsevere wear on teethtemporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
If teeth grinding is treated early and adequately, there should be no lasting problems.
Regular exams by a dentist can check for complications of teeth grinding. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.