Bruxism is an unconscious, involuntary clenching, grinding or tapping of teeth. Most people do it occasionally, without any consequences. About one in ten people clench or grind their teeth frequently until they damage their health. While some people clench or grind their teeth during the day, most do it at night, while asleep.
What is the Differences Between Grinding and Clenching?
Both forms of bruxism, clenching and grinding, have the same causes, but because they involve different activity, the consequences are slightly different. Both clenching and grinding involve forceful contact between the upper and lower teeth. Both involve muscles of the jaws, which keep teeth clenched or moving, as in grinding. While grinding always involves clenching, clenching does not always involve grinding. People who grind their teeth move them repeatedly back and fourth or sideways, while moving their jaws, making an unpleasant sound that often wakes up sleeping partners. Clenching, on the other hand, does not include moving the jaws and teeth, just very forceful, silent pressure on the jaws and teeth. Grinding is the “moving around” of teeth during clenching ( In other words, Teeth Grinding = Teeth Clenching (biting down really hard) + Moving Your Teeth ).
Because teeth clenching puts huge pressure on the muscles and other parts of the jaws, it can cause pain in the jaws, temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ), earache and headache. Teeth grinding also involves the pressure on the jaws, so it can also cause jaw problems, earache and headache, but in addition, it can wear down teeth, cause teeth to get loose, or make teeth enamel to chip or crack.
Bruxism can have many causes, but it is believed that is most commonly caused by stress, or some sort of dental problem, such as teeth misalignment. It is very important to check with the dentist if there are problems that could be fixed by an orthodontist, to stop further damage caused by bruxism. If there are no physical causes for bruxism, it is a good idea to find some sort of stress-relief therapy.
Both types of bruxism, teeth clenching and teeth grinding, get relief by the use of a good quality night guard. Night guard should be used as a relief to guard the jaws and teeth from further damage. They are not meant to be a therapy for bruxism.