Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding or ‘bruxism’ is a condition in which the sufferer grinds their teeth, usually during the night. This action is repeated each night which results in a gradually wearing down of the teeth.

This grinding action causes the enamel (top layer of the tooth) to wear away which reveals the dentin underneath.

Symptoms of bruxism

The symptoms of bruxism are pain in the teeth and/or jaw, headaches and sensitive teeth. Mild cases of bruxism cause sensitive teeth only but severe cases result in headaches, earache and a tight, painful feeling in your jaw joints.

Causes of bruxism

Stress causes bruxism but it can be caused by other factors such as excessive caffeine intake, sleep apnoea and a by-product of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

The problem with this cause of sensitive teeth is that most sufferers are unaware that they do this. As it happens during their night they are completely unaware that they grind their teeth and only pick up on this when they develop the symptoms described above.

If you have a stressful job or find that you grind your teeth when you are angry then you may be doing the same during the night. If this is accompanied by increased teeth sensitivity then you probably have bruxism without realising it.

Treating bruxism

This conditions needs to be seen by your dentist. He or she will look at the cause rather than the symptoms and may recommend you undergo counselling instead.

Alternately, he/she may send you for x-rays to see if your bruxism and sensitive teeth are caused by a misaligned jaw or ‘bite’. If this is the case then your jaw will need to be realigned to prevent further problems.

The final option is for you to wear a special mouth guard which is worn at night times to prevent teeth grinding.