Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is the act of clenching your teeth together and often involves moving your teeth back and forth against each other. It can cause jaw pain and facial pain and, over time, can damage the teeth.
Teeth grinding is most commonly the result of stress or anxiety. In children, earaches may cause teeth grinding, because the temporomandibular joint is close to the ear canal, referring pain to the jaw and teeth. The disorder occurs mostly at night and you may not even know you are doing it. Some people, however, clench their teeth at other times during the day, especially during stressful situations.
If you note the following symptoms then you might be suffering from bruxism:
- Loose teeth
- Headaches and migraines
- Eating disorders
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Receding gums
- Ear aches
- Jaw and facial pain
- Anxiety, stress and depression
Mild bruxism may not require treatment, but if it is causing discomfort or interfering with your life, you should seek help. The first step for treating bruxism is usually being fitted with a mouth guard. You can purchase a guard over the counter, but the best solution is a custom-fitted guard from your dentist. If this does not solve the problem your dentist may offer other options, including surgery or drug therapy. Because it is not a reflexive action, but a habit that develops overtime, in some cases, behavioral modification can reduce the occurrence of teeth grinding, though this may be difficult when it occurs during sleep.
If you believe you grind your teeth and are suffering complications, consult your dentist to develop a treatment plan.