- Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club. Today, we're discussing something called bruxism. It's something that you hear a lot of buzz about on the Internet or maybe at your dentist's office or talking to people I have bruxism. Sounds really bad. Not that that. Bruxism simply is clenching or grinding your teeth. Clenching your teeth means just put the teeth together and just hold them or putting the teeth together and then grinding them.
The same word can mean both things. So what's the big deal with that? Well, any time you grind two things together, things will wear down. Grind two rocks together, grind, you know, two of everything, anything, you can grind them together, and they will wear down. You're naturally gonna grind your teeth down over time as you chew on food, but there's no need to speed up the process, as in grinding your teeth together. You grind your teeth together, and the teeth are gonna wear down faster, and one of the bigger problems is that you intercuspate, meaning putting the cusps into the grooves of the opposing teeth, and then you push. When the teeth are engaged, you might be actually fracturing some of your teeth, breaking the cusps off.
So how can you stop bruxism? How can you stop grinding? Well, two times that this happens. One is when you're awake. One is when you're asleep. That pretty much covers every time. When you're awake, it's a little easier to stop grinding your teeth. What we do is we do some kind of mental retraining. We have people set an alarm watch or a watch on the phone or whatever for about every 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes every day, we do this for about a week. Every time that alarm goes off, you stop your clenching.
A lot of people sit at their desks or if they drive or whatever they do for a living, they're clenching their teeth, and every 10 minutes, if you relax that jaw, kind of massage it, unclench, every 10 minutes, you're unclenching and unbruxing, not really a word, but you get what I'm saying. Then, that helps retrain them over time to stop doing it. What you find is you start doing the grinding and the clenching in really tense situations if you are really tense in your job or just a really stressed kind of person at whatever job you do, you tend to clench. So we can do that kind of retraining and re-patterning if you are awake. The bigger problem is if you're asleep what do you do? How can you stop something that you really don't know you're doing, and you don't want to wake up every 10 minutes obviously, so how do you retrain that?
The problem is you really can't do that because it's something you're doing subconsciously. What we do for bruxism for people when they're asleep is we simply have a mouth guard, and what that does is it just puts something in between the two teeth, and so you're still grinding, but you're grinding on the night guard, and typically, we make the night guards flat so you can't get that traction. You're just slipping on the night guard, and so you're still grinding, but your grinding the night guard. You're wearing down of the night guard instead of wearing down your teeth. Night guards are much easier to replace than your natural teeth, much cheaper, much less pain and trauma, you know, than putting on new crowns and all that other stuff. So during the day, bruxism, you want to retrain yourself, find out when you're doing it and stop doing it. At night, really all you can do is get a night guard, and the night guards don't have to be expensive. They can be-- There's some things that you really ought to do with a night guard, so you ought to at least take the night guard that you by your dentist and see if he can adjust it for you. Dentist-made night guards are better, higher quality night guards. The night guards you by at the store, they can work. There are some things you want to ask your dentist about, but they can work, too. So bruxism is clenching and grinding. Both are bad. Both will cause damage over time, but there are certain things you can do to stop both of them. So Dr. Ellis for Oral Care Club. Have a good one.
Do you often wake up with a dull headache? Does your jaw ever feel sore? Does your partner complain about strange sounds you make during sleep?
If you said yes to any of the above, you may be grinding your teeth at night.
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a common occurrence in both children and adults. For some, it’s a minor annoyance that comes and goes. For others, it may become an ongoing, chronic condition.
Over time, teeth grinding may result in:
- Sore jaw or facial muscles
- Headaches and earaches
- Enamel erosion
- Tooth damage
- Hearing loss
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
What causes teeth grinding? Are certain types of people more likely to grind their teeth at night?
Read on to learn four surprising things teeth grinding might reveal about you.
1. You’re a High-Stress “A” Type Personality
Type A personalities are characterized by drive, ambition, and impatience. They’re aggressive, competitive, and have an unreasonable sense of urgency.
Because A types are so hard on themselves (and everyone around them), they’re prone to stress and anxiety. Researchers link Type A personalities to many stress-related ailments, including heart disease and high blood pressure.
Not surprisingly, they’ve also found a connection between high-stress personalities and teeth grinding. Studies suggest that people who are anxious and tense are more likely to grind their teeth at night.
2. You’re Not Getting Enough Air While You Sleep
Teeth grinding may also suggest that you’re having difficulty breathing when you sleep.
Throughout the night, your body cycles through light and deep stages of sleep. When your brain approaches the deepest sleep cycle, your entire body must “let go” and relax.
For some of us, this is a problem. Your tongue expands to nearly twice the normal size when it’s relaxed, which can obstruct your airway. Because your jaw is heavy, it can also reduce normal airflow.
Interestingly, researchers have found that people with partially blocked airways during sleep often grind their teeth. This causes tension in the tongue and jaw and allows them to breathe normally again.
3. You’re Emotionally Unstable
Even if you’re not a Type A personality, you may still be prone to occasional teeth grinding.
Researchers have noted that grinding seems to be more severe during prolonged periods of stress and anxiety. Anger, frustration, and intense concentration may also lead to teeth grinding.
In the medical community, teeth grinding has long been listed as a physical symptom of anxiety and stress. Those who seek treatment for teeth grinding often report feelings of tension, anxiety, or depression.
Because of this, research suggests a link between teeth grinding and negative emotions. Compared to people who don’t grind, those who do are more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression or other anxiety disorders.
4. You Have Crooked Teeth or an Abnormal Bite
Another common reason people grind their teeth is because of a physical defect. This could include missing or crooked teeth or a misaligned bite.
Children commonly grind their teeth when their baby teeth appear and again when their adult teeth emerge. It often stops once the adult teeth are fully in place.
If the adult teeth are misaligned, this could cause a slight shift in your bite and the way you chew. This places unnatural stress on the jaw muscles, which may pull your jaw out of alignment.
Grinding your teeth at night is your body’s way of trying to “fix” the problem. Unfortunately, it only makes it worse, since grinding can cause damage to your teeth and jaw.
What if You’re a Grinder?
While there’s no cure for teeth grinding, there are treatments available to help you manage it. These may include stress management, corrective dentistry, or wearing a plastic mouth guard while you sleep.
If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth at night, you should make an appointment with your dentist and express your concerns. He or she will examine your teeth and jaw for signs of grinding and prescribe the right solution for you.
There is an old wives tale about rubbing whiskey on the gums of teething babies to help soothe the discomfort. Depending on when you were born, your grandmother may have even done this to you when your mother wasn't looking. The idea is that the whiskey will help to numb the gums of the child and make them stop crying. A sea of anecdotal evidence insists that this method works.
Numbing - A Common Misconception
There are a few reasons why people may be reporting these effects but first, we need to look at a common misconception. There is a widespread belief that alcohol is a topical numbing agent. Topically applied alcohol can create a number of different sensations. It can make your skin feel cold because it evaporates so quickly. It can hurt like the dickens when poured on a wound because it lowers the sensitivity of your V1 receptors, prompting them to tell the brain that you're burning when in reality you're just fine, and because alcohol is a vasodilator, it can make the inside of your tummy feel physically warm. But what alcohol does NOT do, is numb the skin. This is likely a misconception born from observing that skin is rubbed with alcohol for sanitization purposes before administering a shot, a piercing, or anything else that would open the skin to possible infection.
What is Really Happening?
So if alcohol doesn't topically numb, then why would it make baby calm down? There are two possible explanations, and both involve that fact that Baby is at least slightly inebriated. "But wait!" you may say, "Grandma didn't put a whiskey sour in baby's bottle, she just dipped her finger into her glass and rubbed that whiskey moistened finger on baby's gums! Baby couldn't really be intoxicated just from that right?" Wrong!
Alcohol can actually absorb into the bloodstream very quickly through the mouth. Both directly through the skin and also through inhalation of the resulting alcoholic vapors. And remember, a baby's tiny little body doesn't yet have the defense mechanisms of a full grown adult body. Even the tiniest amount of alcohol is enough to inebriate a small baby. And as we know, being inebriated makes us feel a little differently about things.
For one thing, being intoxicated makes you chill out about things that seemed very stressful before. Like sharp new teeth forcing their way through the solid flesh of your gums. Secondly, alcohol in your bloodstream slows down our brain's pain receptors, so it's likely that what was a painful teething experience pre-whiskey, is suddenly feeling a lot more manageable.
So it Probably Works? Awesome, I'll Go Get the Bottle!"
Not unless you want to risk the safety and development of your precious child. In fact not only should this idea be disregarded but it needs to be treated as a dangerous piece of advice. Alcohol, even a few drops, can be very dangerous for an infant. In some cases, it may even be fatal.
There are much better ways of getting your child through the pain of teething. The most natural way is to allow your child to suck on something that has been chilled in the fridge or freezer. You don't want to give your child something completely frozen as that would damage their tongue and lips but something that is cold will do wonders to numb the child's gums while the teeth breakthrough. If you don't mind using manufactured products there are several over the counter numbing agents that do a wonderful job. There are also a number of home remedies that can be found on the Internet.
The take-home point here is that if your child is teething, screaming, and inconsolable, 1.) do NOT let your grandmother babysit and 2.) save the drop o' whiskey to calm and soothe your own grown-up nerves while you give baby something safe and age-appropriate.
Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club, discussing kind of a funny topic today. There's an old wives' tale out there about rubbing whisky on your baby's gums to stop them from teething. It's kind of an older one, but it's something that kinda has hung around and kinda morphed into rubbing any kind of alcoholic beverage on your baby's gums when they're teething is a good idea. It's not. It's a terrible idea, in fact. There are so many more things you can do for a teething baby than rubbing whisky, rum, scotch, whatever, on a baby's gums.
First thing is that alcohol, even a teaspoon of alcohol, for an infant can actually be lethal. So, it's a really bad idea to dispense alcohol to a child in any form, dose, even if it's just kind of wet on the end of your finger. That's the first thing. Second thing is that there are much more effective ways to numb your baby's gums than the alcohol in alcoholic beverages. It's just not that effective and won't do that good of a job, and will end up making you want to continue to dispense the alcohol, which thus then leads back into the first problem, that it's actually very harmful to infants. So you don't want to, number one, for the bad medical effects, and number two is that it's not really that effective. So what is really effective? First thing is just something a little cold.
You don't want to put something frozen 'cause we've all seen A Christmas Story, where you lick the flag pole, right? That's a bad idea, so don't give your kid a piece of ice, but something cool, something chilled on the gums. Then, there are over-the-counter numbing agents. If you don't want the chemicals in there, then that's fine, too. There are other things that are more holistic, essential-oil-type things that you can rub on their gums, home remedies that you can look up, but there are plenty of other things that you can do besides the alcohol. So just stay away from the alcohol. Most natural is just something a little cool out of the fridge or out of the freezer that's warmed up just a hair so it doesn't cause any harm to the baby's tongue or lips, and then any home remedies that you wanna come up with that don't involve chemicals, so, no, on the baby and the whisky. Have a good one.