Grinding the teeth together is called bruxing and squeezing the teeth together is called clenching. Since these acts are not part of the normal function they are called ‘para function’. Para function normally takes place during sleep but may also occur during the day and may be unknown to the conscious mind.
Bruxism sufferers may experience
- Tension in the temple region
- Neck pain and tension
- Pain behind the eyes
- Sore jaw muscles and tired muscles upon wakening
- Chipped or fractured teeth
Causes of para function
- Structural triggers – bite discrepancy between the most comfortable position of the jaw joint and the most comfortable way that the teeth come together.
- Psychological triggers – stress and nervous tension
- Chemical triggers – intake of caffeine and amphetamines can enhance the contractions of the jaw muscles and bring about severe clenching and grinding as can withdrawal from drug dependencies such as nicotine.
- Habitual – after months or even years of grinding and clenching the act becomes a habit so to eliminate other factors will not completely stop habitual grinding and clenching without addressing the habit itself.
Perhaps the most immediate, least expensive and most effective way of stopping the damage and severity of grinding and clenching is through the making of a repositioning splint. A repositioning splint looks like a traditional night guard but has certain functions built into it. The device not only protects your teeth when you grind but in addition, it reduces your urge to grind.