What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a very common habit among people of all ages. It is seen in children as young as 1 and 2 years of age. Clenching is the name given where the teeth are squeezed together and then released repeatedly. Grinding is the name given where teeth in the upper jaw are rubbed against the teeth of the lower jaw by a repeating grinding movement of the lower jaw. These actions or behavior patterns are grouped together under the term Bruxism – or clenching and grinding.
This habit or behavior pattern programme is essentially unconscious although it is possible to become aware of it. This means that very few people are aware that it is happening in their mouths and sometimes this is difficult for people to accept or believe that it is happening when a dentist notices and brings it to their attention. In most cases it is the dental professional on close examination who will notice the particular wear patterns on the teeth (like facets of a diamond).
Symptoms & Causes of Bruxism
The habit of Bruxism creates extremely heavy forces on all the tissues of the oral or mouth system, and so, it affects all the tissues in the system. It has been estimated that the forces generated by the clenching grinding habit are at least 1000 times greater than those of the natural process of chewing. Given that the mouth is designed for very small (chewing) forces, the bruxism habit therefore can often test these tissues to their absolute limit, in terms of the amount of continual forces they can cope with. It affects all tissue, the teeth, gums, and the large joints of the jaw located in front of the ears (TMJ).