Teeth grinding (bruxism) is an unconscious process that occurs especially at night during sleep. Often, mental stress is the cause of the clenching of the teeth. The first symptoms may be tense muscles, toothache, as well as bruised occlusal surfaces or enamel cracks. To prevent (further) damage to the teeth, a bite splint should be worn with frequent teeth grinding. Relaxation exercises, massages and heat treatments are also recommended to relax the tense muscles of the jaw.
Causes of teeth grinding
Actually, we only need our teeth every day for about an hour: that is, when we eat something. But many people bite their teeth much more often. Especially in sleep, teeth grinding or teeth pressing is widespread. Women are affected much more frequently than men.
The cause of nocturnal teeth grinding is usually mental stress, which is processed during the night: The internal tension is transmitted to the muscles and this becomes active. The body tries to unconsciously reduce anger and frustration by clenching its teeth.
In addition to stress, disorders in the chewing area can also be considered as the cause. These include, for example, too high fillings or poorly fitting prostheses. Likewise, a functional disorder of the temporomandibular joint can cause teeth grinding.
In addition to teeth grinding, stress can also be expressed by tongue presses. The tongue is pressed extremely against the teeth in the upper jaw or the lateral teeth in the lower jaw. However, those affected most often press the tongue against the lower anterior teeth. As a result, the tooth position can change and it can loosen teeth.
Teeth grinding while asleep
Teeth grinding is widespread, and almost 90 percent of Germans have ever had their teeth bruised. Since the crunch occurs primarily at night, only about 10 to 20 percent of those affected even know that they are gritting their teeth. The others are made aware of the problem by their partner or dentist.
The constant chewing quickly leaves traces on the teeth, because our chewing muscles are real powerhouses. The first signs of teeth grinding include:
- Tense chewing muscles
- obliquely ground chewing surfaces
- Cracks in the enamel
- Bleeding gums
- a decrease in the gums
- Dental impressions on the edge of the tongue
In the worst case it can lead to tooth loosening or even tooth loss. In the long term, inflammation and irreparable damage to the temporomandibular joint can also occur. Due to the strong activity of the masticatory muscles, tension in the back and neck, headaches and visual disturbances are also possible consequences.
Teeth grinding in babies and children
Teeth grinding can occur at any age, even babies may already be affected. With you, however, the creaking with the teeth is often normal, because they are just getting to know their teeth. As a rule, however, the crunch should disappear as soon as all baby teeth are there.
If teeth grind occurs in children or infants, stress may be a possible cause, just as in adults. Often, however, the reason for the crunch is not apparent. If children crunch with their teeth during the day, you should point this out to the little ones, because most of the time the crunching happens unconsciously. If teeth grinding persists or your teeth are aching, you should consult a dentist.
What to do against teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding often goes unnoticed over a longer period of time as it unconsciously occurs during sleep. Only when toothache or tensions of the masticatory muscles become noticeable, a dentist is visited. Although the symptoms often disappear by themselves, a visit to the dentist always makes sense. For those who wait too long may risk permanent damage to their teeth.
So you better go to the dentist in time. This will first carefully check your teeth and correct too high fillings or crowns as well as badly fitting dentures. Maybe this will ease the symptoms already.
Otherwise, wearing a bite splint helps to prevent teeth grinding. The plastic splint, which is mainly worn at night, prevents the teeth from rubbing against each other and ensures an even load on the muscles. As a result, further damage to the teeth can be prevented. However, the cramped jaw muscles are not loosened by wearing the splint. A bite splint will be made by your dentist especially for you. The costs for the rail are usually taken over by the health insurance.
Relaxation exercises help against the crunch
In order to reduce the burden on the jaw muscles, it is important that the patients observe themselves every day over and over again. If you notice that the jaw muscles are tense, you should consciously relax them. By repeating the volitional relaxation of the muscles, one can get rid of the crunching bit by bit.
In order to achieve a permanent state of relaxation, physiotherapeutic exercises can also help. They ensure that the chewing muscles, but also the muscles in the neck, shoulders, forehead and temples relax again.
In addition, relaxation techniques such as yoga or autogenic training, massages and heat treatments are recommended. If the teeth grinding can not be alleviated by these measures, a visit to the psychotherapist may be useful.