Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stop Mouth Grinding At Night

Just because you go to sleep, it doesn’t mean you leave the stress of the day behind. You could be grinding your jaw all night. To stop it, you need to know the following.

The medical term for grinding your jaw at night is bruxism. Bruxism can occur during the day or at night, but mostly at night. In both cases, people are generally not aware that they are grinding. They might catch themselves doing it during the day or they might be told by someone that they do it at night.

No one is quite sure what causes individuals to grind away. In some instances, teeth are not aligned properly and this can cause them to grind together. In most cases, however, doctors believe that the cause of bruxism is psychological. People who have anxiety or high levels of stress tend to grind their teeth more. Anger or frustration can cause bruxism. There is also some evidence to suggest that people who have “Type A” personalities are more prone to grinding their teeth. People with Type A personalities are usually aggressive, competitive and can sometimes be hyperactive. Bruxism can always be a symptom of another disorder. People with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, cerebral palsy or mental retardation will sometimes grind their teeth as a side effect of their disorder. Some antidepressants and other medications can cause teeth grinding as well. In children, bruxism is often related to normal growth and usually will stop as the child matures.

People typically find out that they are grinding their teeth because someone tells them that they are doing it. Sometimes it is loud enough to wake up the person they are sleeping next to. A dentist might notice that teeth have become worn down or chipped. There might be pain in the jaw, teeth, face or ears. The inside of the cheeks might be irritated or swollen.

Children with bruxism are usually not treated. The expectation is that they will grow out of it as they age. In adults, bruxism is treated if it is severe or is causing pain or damage to the teeth. Dentists often treat bruxism through the use of a mouth guard. A mouth guard is fitted for the individual’s mouth and worn while they sleep. This will not stop the person from grinding their teeth, but it will help prevent further damage.

There are a few things that can help prevent bruxism. First, stress should be eliminated or reduced as much as possible. If the bruxism typically occurs at night, an evening routine of a warm bath, a cup of decaf tea and some relaxing music can help. Counseling and exercise are good for reducing the overall stress level. It also is helpful to reduce the amount of tobacco, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol consumed as they tend to increase occurrences of bruxism. Once someone is aware that they grind their teeth, they can try to relax their jaw during the day. People who suffer from bruxism should be monitored by their dentist to ensure that they are not damaging their teeth.