Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding

Bruxism refers to the unconscious grinding of teeth, which serves as a mechanism for stress relief and has become a widespread issue in today’s society. It is a common problem and can lead to significant consequences for the overall organism. The immense forces to which teeth, the temporomandibular joint, muscles, and adjacent bone structures are exposed can result in serious problems.

Difference between Teeth Grinding and Teeth Clenching

In teeth grinding (bruxism), there are active rubbing and grinding movements causing the dental rows to rub against each other. This friction leads to significant wear of dental substance, making the teeth appear short and abraded.

Teeth clenching involves applying massive pressure to the teeth without actual rubbing. Individuals clench their dental rows together with full force. The wear on the teeth is less, but it can result in the formation of cracks in the teeth, and the temporomandibular joints experience strong force.

Both teeth grinding and teeth clenching fall under the category of bruxism and are widely prevalent in the population.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

The primary cause of teeth grinding is emotional stress that has accumulated and is not psychologically processed. However, there are other causes and factors that lead patients to start grinding and clenching their teeth. These factors reinforce each other, forming the basis for proper therapy planning.

Emotional Stress

Emotional stress is the most common cause of teeth grinding. Teeth grinding serves as a kind of valve to release and alleviate unprocessed, accumulated stress.

The psyche and the body are closely interconnected, forming an inseparable unit. Emotional blockages and traumas manifest as tensions in the body. Conversely, physical problems can directly influence the psyche.

The chewing system, including the jaw muscles, teeth, and jaw structures, is spatially and structurally closely linked to the brain and the psyche itself. Therefore, this system is unconsciously chosen as a valve for stress relief, manifesting in teeth grinding.

Incorrect Bite and Interference Contacts

Each tooth has a specific anatomy, and the teeth are arranged in a precise order in the jaw. The correct anatomy and arrangement ensure that forces are ideally absorbed, and the temporomandibular joints are optimally supported. If the anatomy of the teeth and their arrangement are disrupted, imbalances can occur. The body attempts to compensate for these imbalances by grinding down the disturbing areas through teeth grinding. Thus, an incorrect bite resulting from previous treatments, orthodontics, accidents, etc., inevitably triggers teeth grinding.

Consequences of Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding can have local effects on the teeth or generalized effects on the entire organism. The impacts are often measurable throughout the body, even extending to the feet. Affected individuals frequently complain of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) or otherwise referred as temporomandibular dysfunction of the joints (TMJ) and exhibit a diminished quality of life.

Local Symptoms

The symptoms of teeth grinding are often only locally noticeable. For example, individuals may wake up feeling that their jaw, jaw muscles, and teeth are very tense.

Common local symptoms include:

  • Tension in the jaw muscles
  • Toothaches
  • Tooth wear and tooth migration
  • Pain and inflammation in the temporomandibular joint, often accompanied by jaw joint clicking

Generalized Symptoms

Due to increasing insufficient blood circulation and persistent structural changes, the problem can also transfer to the entire body.

This can lead to symptoms of TMJ:

  • Tinnitus
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Tension in the neck and shoulder areas
  • Intervertebral disc problems and pelvic misalignment
  • Reduced blood flow to the brain with all associated consequences

Treatment of Teeth Grinding

Primarily, it is essential for the patient to learn to manage inner stress better. Changes in daily life, relaxation exercises, and a positive lifestyle can lead to the natural cessation of teeth grinding.

If teeth grinding persists and the prolonged overloading has led to structural changes, dental therapy is often necessary.

Splint for Teeth Grinding

A splint for teeth grinding can protect the teeth from wear and simultaneously relax the entire chewing system. However, it is a purely symptomatic therapy, merely providing support. The cause of teeth grinding continues to exist.

Regeneration of Temporomandibular Joints and Restoration of Correct Anatomy

If an incorrect bite with interference contacts is the cause of teeth grinding, it is crucial to address this issue precisely. The strained and compressed temporomandibular joints can be regenerated through a TMJ splint, followed by the reconstruction of the unphysiological, incorrect bite. The redesign of the teeth is accomplished through ceramic restorations applied to the teeth, giving them a new and correct form.

Dr. Markus Spalek

Teeth grinding can throw the body's statics out of balance and strongly influence health. Our team is here to assist you.

Dr. Markus Spalek Dentist Winterthur

Further information

Here, you can find additional information on the topic to gain a deeper insight.