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Headaches and migraines
Up to 30% of the population are affected by night time clenching and grinding - of which 50-60% suffer headaches, migraines or chronic tension headaches - which often spread to the neck and upper shoulders. Many sufferers have tried every kind of medication and have had every test, finally resigning themselves to living with the pain, believing nothing can be done.
The clenching and grinding of teeth is known as bruxism - a disorder that most people are unaware of, and the fact that this dental related issue can be at the cause of their daily problem. These sufferers generally clench their teeth subconsciously during sleep, causing them to apply prolonged and intense clenching forces. Because it happens during sleep, sufferers fail to put two and two together and attribute the clenching and grinding to the symptoms they wake up with.
Why am I clenching or grinding my teeth at night?
According to the Bruxism Association, the causes are not always clear. However, there are links between bruxism and:
- Sleep disorders (sleep apnoea, snoring, sleep talking etc.)
- Lifestyle factors such as young age, higher educational status, smoking, caffeine intake and heavy alcohol consumption
- Stress & anxiety - it has been found that nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of stress or anxiety
What damage am I doing to my teeth?
Did you know that your jaw can exert 290 pounds of pressure on a single tooth? Whilst teeth are made of enamel, and enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, it can’t always hold up under the full force of your jaw.
Minor contact over time can cause damage to teeth and dental work (implants, crowns, veneers, fillings etc), but prolonged and intense clenching that is left untreated will slowly remove the enamel of your teeth and grind the top of the teeth, leading to wear, chipping, cracking and even tooth loss. Once the enamel has been worn down, there is an increased risk of tooth decay. Often, untreated teeth grinding leaves you requiring cosmetic, restorative procedures such as bridges, crowns, veneers, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures.
Protect & Prevent
- Manage your stress - though lifestyle changes, meditation and behavioural therapy - to name a few. Remember, there are no negative side effects to relaxation!
- Drug therapy - with the highest risk of side effects, drug therapy is recommended only for extreme cases.
- Professional dental night guards - solutions such as the FOS Dental System cushion your jaw to prevent jaw pain and headaches. They also protect tooth enamel from damage.