Teeth Grinding Treatment (Sleep Bruxism)

Nearly one third of American parents hear their little ones grinding their teeth away at night, like listening to fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. Additionally, according to the National Sleep Foundation approximately eight percent of the adult population grinds their teeth while sleeping. This nocturnal tooth grinding, when practiced regularly, leads to a host of problems, dental and otherwise.

People who grind their teeth while sleeping may not be aware of the problem but the symptoms manifest in waking hours. Occasional bruxism generally is not an issue. Chronic grinding of the teeth is a different matter. Depending on the severity of the problem it can affect the health of the teeth causing the enamel to wear down or breakage.  It can also contribute to headache pain and interfere with restful sleep. Facial pain is another symptom of bruxism.

Treatment begins with diagnosis. When it is clear that there is a problem with teeth grinding an appropriate treatment plan is put in place to stop the practice. Children generally outgrow bruxism so treatment is not usually necessary. Adults who are not chronic teeth grinders also do not need to undergo treatment. Chronic bruxism does require intervention however. Options include medication, therapies and dental treatment. Dental remedies can involve the use of splints or mouth guards which are created to keep upper and lower teeth from making contact. Some are made of acrylic while some are soft. Both fit over the teeth. Misalignment of the teeth may be a factor in bruxism and correcting the alignment may alleviate the problem. Treating sleep apnea eliminates the grinding in many cases.

Factors Associated with Sleep Bruxism

The actual causes of teeth grinding are not clear; however, there are several factors that appear to play a role. Most common is anxiety and/or stress. Many people who experience an overload of anxiety and stress report nocturnal teeth grinding. Other contributing factors include habits like caffeine consumption, alcohol use and cigarette smoking. Physical contributors include fatigue, snoring and sleep apnea.  Medications like amphetamines have been associated with bruxism as well.

The Central Park South TMJ Center team is well versed in diagnosing and treating bruxism and sleep apnea. If you are suffering with chronic teeth grinding, contact our office today and make an appointment. 

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