Have you ever found yourself in a hard situation, then quickly realized that you had been clenching your jaw? As common as this is, some people have a very hard time avoiding the clenching – especially while they sleep. This problem is called bruxism, and even if you haven’t heard of it before, we are sure you know a person or two who has a problem with grinding their teeth. Regardless of whether you’re the teeth-grinder or your partner is, it’s important to know what can happen should bruxism go untreated.
What Classifies as Bruxism?
Bruxism is a fairly broad term, and it applies to anyone who struggles with gnashing, grinding, clenching, or gritting of teeth. This can mean during the daylight hours under periods of stress or frustration, or it can mean in your sleep. This grinding can be caused by anything from high levels of stress to crooked teeth and an abnormal bite. We know it may not sound extremely serious, but researchers say that your cheek muscle that helps you chew, the masseter, can exert up to 600 pounds of force per square inch on your molars. This amount of pressure can cause some serious damage to your teeth!
Who Has Bruxism?
Bruxism is more common than you may think since the symptoms vary in their severity. Some people just clench infrequently while others end up seriously grinding their teeth. Unfortunately, about 10 percent of those who suffer from bruxism end up grinding their teeth so harshly that they reduce their teeth down to nubs and require dental surgery in order to repair the damage. Those people who suffer from bruxism may have long periods in their lives with no difficulty, as the symptoms can come and go during their lives. Others have bruxism as a side effect of another medication that causes jaw tension.
Why do People Grind Their Teeth?
There are many reasons why people grind their teeth, and it varies from person to person. Some people develop bruxism at a later age, while others struggle with it as children and outgrow it as they age. Some of the causes include:
- Anxiety and Stress – In order to cope with stressful situations, people often develop habits that help relieve the tension they feel in their bodies. For some people, it’s nail biting. For others, it’s grinding their teeth. Those people with outlets for their stresses tend to suffer less from bruxism.
- Hyperactive Personality – Those people who struggle with attention deficit disorders or hyperactivity disorders tend to also have difficulty with bruxism – even more so than the rest of the population. Usually, this is because of excess nervous energy or because of higher levels of stress.
If you suspect that you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep, or perhaps a loved one has been, please contact us! Bruxism can lead to serious and painful effects, including ear aches, tooth pain, worn down enamel, severe jaw pain, and more. Don’t allow these problems to take over your life and lead to dental surgery; contact the professionals at Kruckman Family Dentistry today. We are proud to serve Waconia and all surrounding areas, including those of you from Victoria, Mayer, and Cologne. We look forward to helping you achieve a healthier smile!