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VII. Malocclusion, or bad bite, is more common among bruxers than in the general population.
To be sure, misaligned teeth may serve as the cause of bruxism, not as its consequence. But bruxism may often involve more pressure on one side of the mouth than on the other, thereby causing malocclusion. As well, as the teeth wear out and the distance between the upper and lower jaws decreases, overclosure may develop–when bruxers close their mouth the front upper teeth do not meet the front lower teeth, but get in front of them.
VIII. Many people find the grinding sound unpleasant, irritating, or disturbing (Blount et al., 1982; Watson, 1993). It may wake up light sleepers, for instance, and keep them awake for a long time.
How can you tell if you yourself suffer from chronic bruxism?
Unfortunately, because bruxism only involves minor symptoms and inconveniences in its initial stages, it is often ignored by both patients and clinicians. At a certain juncture, however, the symptoms begin to noticeably affect one’s quality of life. It is typically at this juncture that a patient starts looking for a cure. This delay is unfortunate, for by then the habit is ingrained and has already brought about irreversible losses.
At present, and incredible as it may seem, most dentists will only provide the sophisticated diagnostic service described here at the patient’s insistence. If your dentist declines, it may be high time to look for a new dentist!
Ask Your Housemates:
If you noisily grind your teeth, and if you live in the same household with other people, diagnosis usually is straightforward, for your housemates or family members would often let you know. If not sure about their cooperation, tell them that this is important, and ask them to monitor the situation and provide you with feedback. Explain that this is important to your health, that you will not be offended, and that you would appreciate knowing the truth.
Self Diagnosis Techniques:
If you live alone, or if the people you live with cannot be relied upon to provide the information you need (they are, for example, heavy sleepers, or young children, or too polite), there is actually a more reliable way of detecting or disproving the presence of teeth grinding and of determining its duration. To do this, get hold of a sound-activated tape recorder (the most recent one in my possession is Olympus Pearlcorder S724 with an ultra sensitive microphone ME7). Calibrate the distance from your head while sleeping (4 ft is about right, located at about the same height as your head while you sleep), and check it for any sounds every morning (this would also tell you if you talk or snore at night!). If you grind your teeth most nights for more than a few seconds per night, then you probably need to do something about the condition.
BruxChecker: Grinders who need additional confirmation may wish to resort to one more diagnostic tool. There are several options here. One promising approach with minimum side effects is provided by the BruxChecker, a comparatively non-invasive, thin, transparent, polyvinyl chloride plate, painted red, which can probably be ordered by a dentist. Tooth grinding leaves clear marks on this thin plate, thus serving as confirmation of the bruxism diagnosis.