Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding or bruxism is a habit in which a person unconsciously or consciously clenches his teeth during the day or while sleeping at night. All dentists consider it both a dental as well as a medical problem. This is because bruxism not only affects teeth but also the structure around the teeth including head and jaw bones.

Teeth Grinding Problems

People suffering from bruxism usually grind their teeth while sleeping. If you have a sleeping partner or a roommate who snores then you might have also a fellow who grinds his/her teeth during asleep. There is nothing to wonder as this is quite common just like snoring. Unlike snoring, bruxism sounds less but can also be bothersome. There are several reasons that cause teeth grinding. According to many doctors, stress can be the major reason for grinding the teeth. Dentists state that improper alignment of one’s teeth is the main reason. This article elaborates a few more reasons for this habit.

Bruxism can also happen in kids. It can be distressing for many people finding their children grinding teeth while sleeping. The problem is more serious in adults as compared with the kids but still the kids need to be taken to a dentist for a dental checkup. Since, kids don’t have permanent teeth, they outgrow this habit. Eventually, when they grow, the milk teeth shed and they grow permanent, stronger and more aligned teeth. So there are more chances for them to get rid of this habit. But with adults, the case is quite contrary. They have permanent teeth that no longer have any tendency to change. Conclusively, adults should be more aware of complications of bruxism. Teeth grinding may not appear troublesome to many people but there can be serious impacts like face, jaw and mouth problems, missing teeth, broken dentures and many others. For adults, it is more important to consult some dentists to get their teeth checked well in time in order to avoid unwanted circumstances.

It is mostly very difficult to diagnose teeth grinding with the help of visual evidence alone. This is because there are many other factors for tooth wear like over-vigorous brushing, abrasive foods, acidic soft drinks and abrasives in toothpaste. All cause different wear patterns to the teeth and only a trained and certified professional can identify them.

Sufferers come to know very late that they brux. This is because it is a very slow process and the people who have very busy routines rarely identify that brux. To resolve this issue, dentist shows abraded teeth to the people during their routine dental examination.  If the enamel has abraded to a greater extent, the softer dentin gets exposed and the abrasion accelerates. If not treated well in time, it may result into tooth decay, cavities, tooth fracture or even gum recession.

Diagonising Teeth Grinding

Electromyography or EMG is the most reliable method to diagnose teeth grinding. In this technique, electrical signals are picked up from chewing muscles (temporils and masseter).  The technique is used inside the sleep labs.EMG is available in three forms for the consumers for outside use of sleep labs. The first EMG unit is quite similar to one used by sleep labs. These units are available for about $2000. The electrodes are connected to the beside unit at one end, while they pick up signals with the help of wires attached adhesively to the facial muscles of the patient. Any of the ECG electrodes or TENS electrodes can be used.

The second form of EMG measurement is like an independent EMG measurement circlet available in the market with trade name of SLEEPGAURD. Some dentists and manufacturers provide this machine on rental basis with $50 per month. This type of EMG does not require any wires or adhesive electrodes to be attached to the facial muscles. Although it does not record the exact strength and duration of each clenching as the expensive beside EMG’s do, yet it records the total clenching time and the total number of clenchings each night that provide sufficient data to the dentist to take some decision.

Both the independent EMG measurement circlets and EMG units can be used in biofeedback mode for treatment or in silent mode for a diagnosis measurement.

The third method for diagnosing teeth grinding using EMG is the most convenient is in the form of disposable Bite Strip. This is an independent EMG module that is adhesively mounted on the masseter muscle.  The strip has been designed for a single time use and can provide a single-digit reading for the maximum clenching severity. This neither provides any information about the total number of clenching events nor about the total clenching time for the night. This information is far limited as compared to EMG measurement units and is fairly expensive as it costs nearly $60/day to use.

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