What causes Teeth Grinding and Clenching (Bruxism) and what are its manifestations?
The main causes of Teeth Grinding and Clenching (Bruxism) are stress, and a poor bite. People often take out their worries, fears and stress subconsciously, while they sleep, causing the muscles and joints associated with the mouth to become strained and over-worked. These muscles can go into spasm, and the joints can become inflamed and result in pain of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). Teeth clenching and grinding can also result in the loss of enamel,causing teeth to become more sensitive and causing the eventual need for root canal therapy and crowns. When tooth structure is lost, the bite collapses, resulting in the face to develop an older appearance. Grinding can also cause teeth to fracture and can cause mobility of the teeth. When the bite is off, the muscles and joints can become strained, resulting in TMJ problems and jaw pain. When this happens neck problems and headaches can arise, and one’s posture can become affected. Keep in mind that a lot of force can be exerted by the chewing muscles.
What causes teeth to get shorter over time?
People don’t often notice the subtle wearing down of their tooth structure, which over time can amount to a huge change in the appearance of their smile. Just like you may not notice the sole of your shoe wearing down until you see the hole, your bite can collapse in much the same way. Severe wearing down of the teeth’s outer layer (enamel) is often the result from grinding or bruxing of the teeth. Acidic conditions (such as acid reflux, bulimia, etc.) can also act to weaken the tooth structure accelerating this wear. Severe wear may become evident on the front teeth, the back teeth or on both, depending on the way one grinds. Excessive wear in the back of the mouth translates to even more wear in the front as the bite collapses. When the front teeth are affected, the teeth start to get more translucent at the top edges, and start to chip away. As these front teeth continue to wear down, and the teeth become shorter, the face begins to take on a much older appearance.
Is it normal for a toddler to grind their teeth? What can be done about it?
It is not uncommon for toddlers to grind their teeth at night. In fact, about 35% of children do grind their teeth according to some studies. There may be a variety of reasons responsible for their teeth grinding, including: teething pain, malocclusion (when teeth are not meeting properly), and just simply their trying to get used to the new sensation of having teeth. The average age when the grinding may start is at 3 years old, and usually ending by the age of 6. This grinding is not very likely to result in any real damage to their teeth, but you should mention it to your child’s dentist to prevent any possible problems from arising.
Although the noise can become quite disturbing, you may just have to wait a period of time for your child to grow out of it. Older children may be fitted with anight guard appliance, although they will probably need to go through a few of them as their teeth and jaws continue to grow.
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