Many of us grind and clench our teeth, sometimes during the day but most often without knowing it when we are asleep. This habit called bruxing is damaging to our teeth, and causes loss of tooth structure on the tops and necks of our teeth. This can lead to sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and foods and unsightly teeth. It can also cause painful "clicking" jaw joints, jaw muscles and pain in the head and neck and even headaches.
Bruxing may even cause migraines. The first step in treating bruxing is to try and become aware of when you are doing it. If it's during the day then you will have more control over stopping it. At rest our teeth should be a few mm apart called Freeway Space and if your teeth are touching you should consciously relax your jaw so that they are slightly apart. Our weight lifting and horse riding patients are particularly prone to bruxing while gymning or jumping. Usually it occurs at night time, while sleeping and is aggravated by stress! Ask you partner if they can hear you bruxing at night time- when you are sleeping.
The consequences of bruxing may be small or large. In severe bruxer's it is not unusual to lose several mm of tooth structure with over closing of the bite and jaw causing a loss of vertical face height. These patients need to do whole mouth rehabilitation by crowning all of their teeth to prevent teeth sensitivity and restore the teeth and bite to their correct height and dimensions.
The easiest way to treat bruxing is with a removable Bite Appliance which is worn at night time. These bite plates (of which there are several designs) work by separating the teeth. They prevent damage to the teeth and help to ease muscular spasm of the muscles of the face and help to prevent painful jaw joints.