Teeth clenching

Description, Causes and Risk Factors: Alternative Name: Bruxism. ICD-9-CM: 306.8. A clenching of the teeth, associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements, resulting in rubbing, gritting, or grinding together of the teeth, usually during sleep. Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. Being more common in children than in adults, bruxism has been estimated to occur in 5% to 20% of the 3-17 year old age group. In younger children it often stops by the time the second set of teeth appear. In adults, bruxism is more prevalent in athletes, military tank drivers, compulsive over-achievers and those involved in very meticulous work. Bruxism has been observed in patients with organic brain damage and with the use of Levodopa. Doctors do not completely understand the causes of bruxism. Possible physical or psychological causes may include:
  • Suppressed anger or frustration.
  • Anxiety, stress or tension.
  • Aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type.
  • Abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion).
  • Changes that occur during sleep cycles.
  • Response to pain from an earache or teething (in children).
  • Growth and development of the jaws and teeth (for children).
  • Complication resulting from a disorder, such as Huntington's disease or Parkinson's disease.
  • An uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, including certain antidepressants.
Symptoms: Symptoms like these may be a signal that you grind your teeth:
  • Sensitive teeth.
  • A sore, tired jaw.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Earaches.
  • Clicking sounds when you open your mouth.
  • Dull headaches.
  • Neck aches.
Diagnosis: Your dentist will examine your entire mouth and ask several questions. This evaluation helps confirm that you do grind your teeth. It may also help identify a possible cause of your teeth grinding habit. Sufferers are sometimes advised to slip their tongue between their teeth when they become aware of clenching, as this self-protective measure prevents further clenching. Treatment Options: Depending on the cause of your teeth grinding, your dentist may suggest one or more of these treatments: Mouth Guards: A mouth guard is a plastic device that fits over your teeth. It protects them from grinding damage. It's worn when you're most likely to grind your teeth. Splints: Splints are usually constructed of hard acrylic and fit over your upper or lower teeth. Some dentists may make them right in the office, while others may send them to a laboratory to be made. Bite Adjustment: The way your top teeth fit against your bottom teeth may be uneven. Correcting this can reduce chances of grinding. Stress Reduction: Reducing stress may make grinding less likely by relaxing your jaw muscles: Your dentist may suggest ways to reduce stress, like exercise. Medication: In some cases medication may be given. It may help relieve sore muscles or reduce stress. In general, medications aren't very effective for treatment of Bruxism. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime. If you develop bruxism as a side effect of an antidepressant medication, your doctor may change your medication or prescribe another medication to counteract your bruxism. Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections may help some people with severe bruxism who have not responded to other treatments. Note: The following drugs and medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment. This service should be used as a supplement to, and NOT a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.  

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