Teeth Grinding (bruxism)
What is teeth grinding?
It is a para-functional, unconscious and non-physiological habit for the masticatory system. There are two types of teeth grinding; diurnal and nocturnal.
Daytime teeth grinding is associated with repetitive habits such as; nail biting, pencils, chewing gum, grinding teeth, poor posture and all other phenomena that occur when the subject is awake.
The nocturnal teeth grinding is a sleep disorder in which not only the grinding of the teeth occurs but also micro-awakenings. This increases the respiratory rate, heart rate and body movements.
What is the percentage of the population affected?
Studies indicate that as much as 15% to 90% of the population has had episodes of teeth grinding.
It is a pathology very associated with stress and the reason why a great part of the population is affected. However, only 5 to 20% are aware of parafunction.
Does it happen only in adults or also in children?
When we are children we grind our teeth into patterns that will be essential to their normal exfoliation and also to their positioning in the jaws. In this situation it is normal. Parents should not worry about the grinding noise, especially at night.
When it comes to adults it should be seen as a pathology so that one can act as soon as possible.
What are the signs and symptoms?
In general, teeth grinding is diagnosed at a later stage since it is an unconscious habit. Normally the patient himself realizes that his teeth are getting shorter (due to wear) or, someone notices the grinding of the teeth.
The dentist has a fundamental role since he can check the existence of teeth grinding through facets of wear. Symptoms such as muscle tension or migraine-type headaches can occur from the existing tension.
What is the cause of teeth grinding?
For many years it was thought that it would only be a problem resulting from a dental disharmony, where nature would attempt to obtain an occlusion equilibrium.
More recent studies point to a central cause problem, that is, the Central Nervous System where the stress and anxiety component play a preponderant role, discharging its full force potential into the chewing muscles.
It is also worth noting that the current society’s sedentary lifestyle contributes to this stressful situation as well as caffeine and alcohol ingestion habits.
The creaks do not occur continuously and the grinding of the teeth has an undulating character, with peaks of squeaks and quieter phases.
Do we always grind our teeth in the same way?
No. In adulthood we can have two types of movement – eccentric type and centrist type (clenching). In the first one, the creaking component is horizontal, with gradual wear factors.
In the second there is a vertical tightening, associated with static muscle tension. This occurs not so much on the anterior teeth but, essentially on the posterior teeth that begin to exhibit exaggerated wear to the normal chewing function.
It is common in any case to check the hypertrophy of the muscles due to their permanent activity.
What is the treatment?
It is necessary to make daytime teeth grinding a conscious problem because through attention calls, it is possible to educate the brain with a series of maneuvers that provide the tooth spacing avoiding its wear.
In addition, it is necessary to realize that it is a multidisciplinary treatment where sports, posture, relaxation therapies and good habits of life are fundamental, since the stress component is one of the keys of this pathology.
Equipment for teeth grinding – grinding of teeth
For many years it was thought that it would only be a dental problem and as such the treatment historically was performed aiming at occlusion balance. Currently the confection of protective devices can prevent wear of the enamel, which contributes to the longevity of the teeth.
It is also important to educate the chewing muscles so that they do not exercise these nonfunctional movements and to avoid the ingestion of caffeine and alcohol that, by norm, exalt the most anxious personalities.
What are protective devices?
They are acrylic plates. The patient is given an ideal inter-maxillary relation through a personalized adjustment of the appliance. Whose main objective is to avoid contact between the teeth, allowing them to contact with acrylic. Being the acrylic is softer than the enamel, the wear turns out to be in the first, thus protecting the teeth of the patient.
These devices are used during the night and after a week the wear of the device begins to be visible, making the patient aware that it really tightens or grinds the teeth!
What to do to prevent?
There is no prevention since there are no tests for predisposition to teeth grinding. However, sports, good posture, relaxation therapies and good habits of life are fundamental in helping eliminate the component of stress.