Grind, Grind, Grind Those Teeth

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • To the young, the teeth don't seem important. They're hard, indestructible and permanent. As a case in point, think about how difficult it is to convince your child to brush and floss regularly! And he or she will do just about anything to avoid a trip to the dentist, whether it's for a filling, or just a checkup.


    However, teeth are important and they are destructible. For proof, ask anyone who is struggling with ill-fitting dentures.


    But there's another dental problem that we should consider. It's called bruxism.


    Your Dentist Can Help
    You're sound asleep, pleasant dreams dancing across your subconscious. You snuggle down into your pillow -- and suddenly you're awakened by a horrible sound. Your spouse or roommate or child is grinding his/her teeth.

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    What an irritating sound. As bad as fingernails scratching across the black board. And far more dangerous. This is nocturnal bruxism - grinding of the teeth in the night - and it can have far-reaching implications, like loosening and loss of teeth.


    Temporo-Mandibular Joint
    It can also cause another condition - Temporo-Mandibular joint disease (TMJ.) TMJ occurs when the muscles, joints and ligaments of the jaw move out of alignment. Symptoms of this are headache, earache and pain in the face, neck or shoulder.


    Almost everyone grinds his or her teeth at sometime during his life, but in about 8% of the population, this disorder occurs weekly or even more often. It can cause daytime sleepiness and stress.


    Dental Problem?
    Why am I writing about a dental problem in a sleep disorders article? Bruxism is listed in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD.) In fact, the ICSD suggests that bruxism is the third most common form of sleep disorder right behind sleep talking and snoring and Number One in the list of parasomnias.


    The Wikipedia definition of parasomnia is:

    A parasomnia is any sleep disorder such as sleepwalking, sleepeating, sleep sex, teeth grinding, night terrors, rhythmic movement disorder, REM behaviour disorder, restless legs syndrome, and somniloquy, characterized by partial arousals during sleep or during transitions between wakefulness and sleep. and sleep.

    Bruxism is also closely associated with other sleep disorders. Research has discovered that people who brux are more likely to snore, suffer from breathing pauses during sleep and be victims of sleep apnea.


    As is the case with many sleeping problems, stress is a major cause of bruxism. Even during the day, it's not unusual to clench or grind the teeth when angry or nervous. The use of tobacco, alcohol or caffeine tends to aggravate the problem.


    It's a disorder that can affect people of all ages, men, women and children. It does seem to decrease with age, and the worst cases occur in the 19 to 44 year age group.


    If your child suffers from bruxism, do your best to catch it in its early stages. Talk to your dentist and see what methods of treatment are available.


    Find out your stress level here.

Published On: August 27, 2007