Many clench their teeth when there is stress, don't they? It seems to be a normal reaction for when we are excited or tense. Like biting nails, perhaps. Does biting one's nails have any name? I can't say, but clenching teeth at night is known as bruxism and it is a sleep disorder. This condition is characterized by things like grinding ones teeth against other teeth, or clenching them tightly. Why does clenching of teeth happen and is it a cause of worry?
Many times people are not even aware that they are clenching their teeth. Like some people have the habit of biting the insides of their mouth or nibbling at their nails. It simply happens. Clenching or teeth grinding can happen in the day as well, but it is clenching teeth while sleeping that is more dangerous because people are not even aware of it. This causes problems that are not only limited to dental problems but could also stretch into the head. Teeth grinding and clenching can cause jaw disorders, damaged teeth, headaches and other problems like the Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). What exactly causes this? It could be anything from stress, frustration, crooked teeth, suppressed anger, aggression in a person or due to the onset of another condition like Parkinson's.
Symptoms of Teeth Clenching
The problem with Bruxism is that it is not until the problem has reached a drastic stage that it is detected. And that is why it is important to know the symptoms of the same. Let us see what these are:
- Anxiety, tension and stress
- Feelings of depression
- Eating disorders
- Teeth grinding or clenching that is so loud that it can cause another person to be disturbed
- Teeth which have telltale signs of being chipped, worn out, flattened or fractured
- Increase in tooth sensitivity
- General sensation of jaw locking, pain in the jaw or tightness
- Enamel of the teeth being worn out which causes the deeper layers of the tooth to be exposed
- Jaw muscles that have become enlarged
- Headaches and earaches caused by the tightening of ones jaw muscles
- Chewed tissue on the inside of the cheeks
- Indentations on tongue
- Severe facial pain and pulls
Solutions for Teeth Clenching
It is necessary to eradicate the condition of Bruxism because it can cause permanent damage to your teeth and lead to severe pain. Here's how you do it:
Once a dentist makes an analysis of the teeth and realizes that stress is the cause of the patient clenching his teeth, he will recommend him to see a professional psychologist to understand the problem better. If the person knows that it is stress causing the problem, then he might choose to solve it himself with the help of several stress management techniques like yoga or meditation.
Clenching one's teeth at night might develop into a habit that carries itself into the day as well. This is never good and will require therapy for correction. There are centers for these therapies, wherein concentration, mouth and jaw positioning and tongue placement is taught.
Some dentists prefer to carry out a surgery instead of depending on a mouth aid. This they do if they feel that the situation has become rather drastic. These surgeries include reconstruction of the jaw and using crowns to reshape the teeth surface.
Medication in the form of muscle relaxants might be prescribed by the doctor to relax the muscles that cause the patients to tense and clench their teeth as a result.
There are certain other remedies that you can carry forth for this problem:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get enough rest and proper sleep.
- Do not have foods like candies, sweets and nuts which are hard to chew.
- Apply an ice pack or a hot wet cloth to the sore jaw for relief.
- Learn to relax your face. Every time you realize that you are clenching your teeth, stop! For better results, place the tip of your tongue between the two rows so that you are constantly aware of the same.
- Massage your neck, face and shoulders for relief.
- Learn some relaxation techniques so that you can deal with stress. You can do some exercises for the same.
Now that you know what clenching your teeth during the night can do to you and why it should be stopped, be alert and catch any of the symptoms of this disorder and correct it immediately! All the best!