Teeth grinding is a parafunctional activity of the teeth or jaws which eventually cause pain in the jaw muscles, hypersensitive teeth, tooth wear, dental restorations damage and headaches. But mostly the symptoms are not very evident and the patient is not aware of the condition. The activity can occur anytime, either while asleep or not. People grinding their teeth while sleeping can have other sleep disorders also like sleep apnea or pauses in breathing and snoring. Other serious signs and symptoms of teeth grinding are fracturing and chipping off of teeth, sometimes loosening of the teeth also, wearing out of the tooth enamel, sensitivity, soreness of jaws, face and neck, earache, erosion and damage of the inner lining of cheeks due to chewing and disruption of sleep. The causes of teeth grinding are still not clear to doctors and researchers but can cause due to genetic, physical and psychological factors. A few factors that increase the risk of teeth grinding are stress and anxiety, age as it usually occurs more during childhood, some medications, personality that is more aggressive and hyperactive, heredity and some other disorders triggering teeth grinding like dementia, Parkinson’s disease, night tremors, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy and gastroesophageal reflux disorder. There are several approaches to treat teeth grinding like dental approaches which mainly focus on repairing the wear out caused by teeth grinding. Since, medications have not proved very effective against the disease and research is still going on to come up with more effective medicines to treat teeth grinding, there are only a few approaches with medication that may be used for the treatment. There are some other approaches that are helpful in getting rid of teeth grinding that mainly deal with mental health and behaviour. Teeth grinding caused due to certain associated disorders, when identified can also be treated to treat teeth grinding.
Effective treatment for teeth grinding involves usage of therapy, mouth splints, and mouth guards. Using mouth guards and mouth splints have proved quite effective. If a person has the problem of teeth grinding while sleeping, it can be corrected using a mouth guard. Mouth guard is usually custom made of rubber or plastic and resembles those worn by boxers and rugby players. A custom made mouth guard fits well in the mouth and the teeth are prevented from grinding or gnashing against each other. Another device used for preventing teeth from clenching is called mouth splint which is made of a bit harder plastic. Mouth splints fit over both upper and lower teeth and are more long lasting than mouth guards. Dental appliance is another device which is mostly custom-made, is quite expensive and is a band 3 treatment. If the teeth have already worn down and has started causing sensitivity and impaired ability to chew properly, the patient may require dental correction wherein either crowns would be used or chewing surfaces of the teeth would be reshaped. The other approaches to treat teeth grinding that have proved effective are changing behaviour and practicing maintaining proper position of jaws and mouth with the help of a dentist, anxiety and stress management that help in relaxation of the body and mind and the biofeedback approach that helps controlling jaw muscle activity by using monitoring procedures. If teeth grinding is caused due to some other associated disorders like medications or medical condition or due to sleep related disorders, then the condition can be treated by treating these associated disorders. Although, use of medicines have not proved helpful in treating teeth grinding, there are certain muscle relaxants, medication for anxiety and stress management and botox injections that can be used for the purpose.
The condition is not very evident in the early stages and serious symptoms may not show unless the condition causes some other serious problems. So, when the symptoms actually become quite noticeable like headaches especially near the temples, damage of the inner cheek lining etc., the person would become eligible for treatment.
If the symptoms are not visible then treatment is not required.
Treatment using devices like mouth guards, mouth splints and with dental corrections, there is usually no side effect. Even treatments that involve behavioural therapy, stress management, biofeedback or approaches involving treatment of associated disorders like other medical condition such as GERD, sleep apnea or snoring or due to some other medication may not cause any side effect. Side effects can occur only if certain medications are used for the treatment like botox injections like pain and swelling of the injection site, redness and bleeding, bruising, rash, red welts and dizziness and certain medications used for stress management can also cause side effects like weight gain, dizziness, and nausea etc.
As the treatment mainly involves approaches that do not include extensive medication or surgery, and mostly uses physical devices that are used only for short term and behavioural therapy, stress management using talk therapy, the patient does not need to follow much guidelines after the treatment. They can only practice managing stress and anxiety along with adopting some lifestyle habits like avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol and practicing good sleep habits like sleeping early and getting a relaxed sleep.
It does not take much time to stop the activity of grinding of teeth once devices like mouth guards and moth splints are used. The devices work instantly when the patient wears them as the teeth of the upper and lower jaw cannot gnash against each other. Treatment via stress management, behavioural therapy and managing sleep disorders can take a few weeks or months to completely get rid of the condition. Direct medical treatment like botox injection and muscle relaxants takes just a week or two to ease the symptoms.
The price of treatment for teeth grinding in India ranges from Rs. 100 to Rs. 1,000 depending upon the underlying cause.
No the results cannot be said to be permanent. The treatments are all for short term, the devices need to be used regularly to control grinding of teeth, the behaviour therapy may work for a longer period or may also for lifetime. But even then there will be chances of the condition coming back either due to reaction of some other medication or developing some other disorder like GERD, sleep apnea etc.
Treating teeth grinding can be possible with some home remedies and adopting changes in the lifestyle. Some self-care methods that help prevent teeth grinding are practicing relaxation of the body as wells as the mind by meditating, breathing exercises, taking warm bath, avoiding caffeinated drinks like strong coffee or alcohol after dinner or right before going to bed, practicing good sleep habits, talking to your sleep partner to let you and your dentist or doctor know when and how often the teeth grinding happens to you while sleeping.