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    August 25, 2011

    The Nightly Grind


    The Nightly Grind…….

    Are you waking up in the morning with a headache, tightness in your jaws, clicking and popping in your jaw joint ? Does your partner complain that you are grinding your teeth?

    If so, you are not alone.

    Bruxism (night-time grinding) is a different condition to problems with the jaw joint (cranio-mandibular dysfunction) but can exist in the same patient.

    Who Bruxes?

    Both children and adults, and it is shared equally between both sexes. In adults it is often associated with Type A personalities. By Type A personality I refer to individuals who are competitive, ambitious, and busy.   In my practice I see many of these individuals and they often have stressful jobs or lifestyles. Funnily enough they are usually the nicest people and seem the most ‘with it’. They often internalise their stress.


    In children it is very common and is not a sign that your child is unhappy. It is very common in younger siblings who are trying to keep up with their  brothers and sisters.

    What causes Bruxism

    Not unexpectedly it is thought that Bruxism is related to stress in 70% of cases. It is a way of your body to process the day’s events. It is also made worse by caffeine and alcohol. In my own experience I find that the bruxers are often the people who internalise their stress and not the people that fly off the handle and unload their problems to others.

    What are the effects?

    Apart from the jaw aching, bruxing can accelerate the wear of your teeth. This occurs if the condition is chronic and long lasting. In individuals with more acidic mouths then the wear is accelerated and can be devastating. There can be related deterioration in the jaw joint itself. If you are waking  with tight jaws more than once a week you should seek treatment.

    What can I do?

    Please seek advice from your dentist or me (Dr Caroline Downing) at Mdt dental surgery 9908 3466

    Behaviour modifications.

    ·      no alcohol

    ·      other stress release activities like walking, yoga etc

    ·      do not watch television or do work in bed. Bed should be for sleep or pleasure

    ·      Try and write down the days problems on a piece of paper before you sleep as this externalising of the problem can help.

    Other treatments include a night-time splint which produces an ideals bite and protects your teeth from wear. In a limited number of cases it can stop the grinding.



    Alot of the benefit of the treatment is understanding the problem. Understanding the cause removes one more thing that can be stressing people. We often find that Bruxing is episodic and will wax and wane depending on the issues in your life at the time.

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