Bruxism (Grinding) of Teeth

There are two main types of bruxism. 

Awake Bruxism
This mostly involves clenching of teeth, often when one is for example concentrating on a difficult task at work, feeling stressed about a deadline to meet,  having a loved one unwell, or just performing family responsibilities. The main symptom of this is that pain will increase as the day goes on.

Sleep Bruxism
This mostly involves grinding of teeth, with forces up to ten times greater that what we can consciously exert when awake. As most peoples’  bite are a little off centre, bruxing, the jaw gets “caught” around one or more “interfering” teeth, causing them to become painful. Also, when the jaw gets “caught”, the muscles can’t function smoothly and develop “Micro-tears” which make the jaw muscles, usually on one side, become painful and tender to touch.  Also the jaw joint, in front of the ear, can be traumatised and become tender (see section on TMD). The pain symptoms of sleep Bruxism are most intense on waking and will settle through the day.

The symptoms of bruxing can be one or more of these:

  • Excessive tooth wear
  • Pain in one or more teeth, usually on the same side
  • Sensitive teeth, particularly to cold drinks
  • Painful jaw and facial muscles
  • Painful jaw joints
  • Muscle fatigue when eating
  • Teeth tender to biting
  • Gums tender when biting (if gums are otherwise healthy)
  • Ear ringing (tinnitus), or ears feeling itchy inside
  • Burning tongue
  • Unexplained headaches, particularly in the morning.

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