Teeth grinding is most common among children. However, grinding teeth is also a problem faced by many adults. This habit, referred to as bruxism by medical professionals, involves the grinding and clenching of both the jaws and teeth.
Comments by Dr. Ted Herrmann:
Holistic dentists and medical professionals are increasingly concerned with the prevalence of teeth grinding among both children and adults. Grinding of the teeth is common among children; however, this habit can be detrimental to overall health if it persists.
What Causes Teeth Grinding?
Several things contribute to the formation of this habit. Typically, teeth grinding is an unconscious attempt to reshape the alignment of teeth. This is most evident in children because baby teeth tend to be misaligned. Other causes include:
- Stress. Many health professionals feel that stress is the number one cause of teeth grinding. These professionals feel that grinding of one’s teeth is a means of de-stressing.
- Anger suppression. Other health professionals feel that teeth grinding is a method of anger suppression. Just as one may clench a fist when angry, so too may they clench their jaw.
- Aggression. Another widely held view is that individuals clench their jaw and grind their teeth as an unconscious way of intimidating another individual. This view holds that teeth grinding is a byproduct of showing aggression.
- Misalignment of Teeth. This view, most common among Miami dentists and other dental professionals, holds that individuals grind their teeth because they simply do not fit together comfortably. Individuals who undergo dental procedures that leave their teeth misshapen or uneven may grind them into alignment slowly, often in their sleep.
Effect on Overall Health
Teeth grinding may cause several health problems because it involves a large portion of the overall head area, specifically the teeth and jaw. Headaches are a common side effect of persistant teeth grinding. However, this link is not quite clear because stress may be the underlying reason for teeth grinding, headache, or both. Individuals who grind their teeth habitually may also develop pain in their facial muscles. TMJ disorders are also likely to develop in patients who exhibit periods of prolonged teeth grinding. Most importantly, consistent teeth grinding will damage tooth structure. Those who grind their teeth slowly destroy the outer enamel of the tooth. Once destroyed, teeth become particularly susceptible to plaque formation and decay.
As a Miami dental professional, I strongly urge adults to stay aware of teeth grinding and the damage it causes. Parents are smart to talk openly with children about grinding of teeth, as the habit typically forms at an early age and becomes more difficult to break over time.