Teeth Grinding & Clenching?
It may be caused by stress!
Dr Pong Sze Ming
Sleep bruxism affects an estimated 8% of people around the world. of their teeth grinding habit until the grinding noise affects their partner. Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related disorder where people gnash their upper and lower teeth unconsciously during sleep. The intensity of their clenching and grinding can be vigorous and may last for extended periods, causing damage to the teeth in the long run. The leading cause of bruxism is stress and anxiety from work, school, family or other problems. Teeth grinding may also be a warning sign of other underlying illnesses, as studies have found that one out of four sleep apnea patients also has sleep bruxism.
Did you know that teeth may experience up to 250 pounds of force when jaw clenching? Although we maybe not be aware of teeth grinding during sleep, however after waking up, you may feel jaw soreness, aching jaw muscles or tooth numbness and pain. If this persists for a long time, the tooth enamel wears down and causes sensitive teeth, and you cannot chew hard items. In the more severe cases, teeth may even appear short and flat affecting the appearance of sufferers.
Dentists generally use a mouthpiece to evaluate if a patient suffers from bruxism. They observe whether the mouthpiece shows any sign of teeth grinding and its severity. Treatment for sleep bruxism includes wearing a mouth guard to reduce the abrasion of the teeth or drugs to relax the muscles of the jaw and relieve the pain and discomfort from jaw aches. However, these two methods only offer a temporary solution and cannot eliminate sleep bruxism.
The most effective way to eradicate bruxism is to find out the root cause of the stress. Patients can consult their family doctor or seek help from a psychiatrist for psychological therapy to solve the stress problem. They can simultaneously adjust their sleep habits, avoid drinking alcohol and coffee before bed, and do some relaxing activities to improve the quality of sleep. If you have symptoms of teeth grinding, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible to avoid making the situation worse and cause irreversible damage to the teeth.