Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding of teeth or the clenching of jaws. Bruxism often occurs during deep sleep or while under stress. Bruxism commonly occurs in children but most of them outgrow this condition into adolescence.
Symptoms of Bruxism may vary in individuals. Some of the common symptoms are as follows:
Teeth grinding or clenching of the jaws occurs involuntary and especially during sleep. It is the most common symptom of bruxism. The most severe and extensive grinding and clenching occurs during sleep, so the person may be oblivious to it, but family members might notice. Grinding can wear down your teeth. Clenching the teeth puts pressure on the muscles, tissues, and other structures around your jaw. The symptoms can cause temporomandibular joint problems, in other words problems of the jaw.
Abrasion of Teeth
A person can actually grind their teeth so hard while asleep, that sometimes significant amounts of tooth structure can be lost over time. Usually it is the canines and incisors that are moved against each other in a side to side action. This can cause abrasion of the teeth and eventually wear down dental crowns and loosen teeth. It also leads to excessive tooth mobility and premature loss of teeth.
Due to excessive clenching and grinding of teeth, the jaws and teeth are eroded and teeth become sensitive to cold, pressure and other stimuli. Worn tooth enamel exposes the softer part of the tooth –the dentine- making the affected teeth susceptible to tooth sensitivity problems.
Sore and Painful Jaws
The incessant clenching of jaws and gnashing of teeth leads to sore and painful jaws. Teeth grinding usually occurs during sleep when the person in unaware that it is happening. As a result of this the chewing action associated with teeth grinding is much more powerful and gradually the jaws are affected along with the teeth leaving them sore, bruised and painful. Often persons suffering from sleep bruxism seek medical treatment for sore and painful jaws which eventually leads to the diagnosis of teeth grinding.
Receding and Painful Gums
When teeth grind hard against each over a long period of time, they flex at the gum line and the enamel of the teeth erodes away. The end result is receding gums which are extremely sore and painful due to the incessant clenching of jaws.
Headaches and Facial Pain
Headache associated with joint and muscle strain is a common symptom associated with teeth grinding.
Facial pain is also one of the most common symptoms that accompany bruxism because of the constant clenching of the jaws and the gnashing and grinding of teeth.
Persons suffering from bruxism often complain of earaches. The earaches are primarily caused by the contraction of the jaw muscles. It just so happen that when the jaws move constantly and involuntarily the muscle that connects to the ear suffers as well.
Obstructive Nasal Breathing in Children
In the case of children bruxism is often associated with obstructive nasal and breathing symptoms due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids.