Bruxism is a medical condition characterised by grinding, gnashing or clenching of the teeth. This dental condition causes you to unconsciously grind or clench your teeth while sleeping (sleep bruxism) or when you are awake (awake bruxism).
Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Bruxism (Teeth Grinding) – Symptoms, Causes, Risks and Treatment
Bruxism is a medical condition characterised by grinding, gnashing or clenching of the teeth. This dental condition causes you to unconsciously grind or clench your teeth while sleeping (sleep bruxsm) or when you are awake (awake bruxism).
Mild bruxism, in some cases, does not require any treatment. However, in some individuals, bruxism can happen frequently and severely enough to result in jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth, and other issues. Some people (especially those with sleep bruxism) may not be aware that they have this condition, while some may be aware but unable to stop.
Below is everything you need to know about this often painful and tooth-damaging habit, from symptoms and causes to possible risks (complications) and treatment.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Teeth grinding is often linked to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and their symptoms are quite similar. Also, every case of bruxism is unique, but there are however some symptoms that are commonly experienced. Some of them are;
- Teeth grinding, gnashing or clenching, loud enough to wake your partner.
- Teeth that are flattened, chipped, fractured or loose.
- A worn-out tooth enamel, unable to protect the deeper layers of your teeth.
- Increased tooth pain, tenderness or sensitivity.
- Tight or tired jaw muscles, or sometimes a locked jaw refusing to open or close completely.
- Face, jaw or neck pain or soreness.
- Pain similar to an earache, even though there’s no problem with your ear.
- Dull headache starting from your temples.
- Sleep disruption.
Causes of Bruxism
Several factors may increase an individual’s risk of developing bruxism; these include; stress, frustration, anger, anxiety, certain medications (antidepressants), alcohol and tobacco consumption, genetics, mental health disorders, and specific personality types (individuals that are hyperactive, competitive or aggressive are at higher risk of developing bruxism).
Age and certain medical conditions (night terrors, sleep apnea, epilepsy and gastroesophageal reflux disorder) can also increase a person’s risk of getting bruxism.
Complications Resulting From Bruxism
Severe cases of teeth grinding, clenching or gnashing may put you at risk for complications like; ear pain, jaw pain (or TMJ), broken or damaged teeth, headaches, receding gums, insomnia and depression.
An individual suffering from mild teeth grinding may not require any form of treatment, but those with severe bruxism may require intervention for headaches, jaw disorders, damaged teeth and other symptoms.
Several treatments are currently being utilised to treat bruxism, including dental preventative measures like mouth guards or splints (to prevent teeth damage caused by excessive grinding), or dental correction of any teeth with excessive wear, which may interfere with your ability to chew food properly.
Other treatment options aimed at alleviating or preventing bruxism include medications like muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medications, contingent electrical stimulation (this procedure is designed to inhibit jaw muscles activity when sleeping), stress management, and botox injections (for patients who do not respond to other forms of treatments).
Treatment may also be required for underlying causes of bruxism, such as GERD neurological disorders. In addition to this, addressing sleep-related disorders and discontinuing specific drugs may be required, if the teeth grinding occurs as a side effect of a medication you are taking.
Strategies to Minimise Teeth Grinding
Some of the ways you can reduce teeth grinding include:
- Eliminating caffeinated drinks and foods like coffee, tea, and chocolate from your diet.
- Avoiding alcoholic beverages.
- Refraining from chewing gum, sticky foods or items such as pencils, pens or other items.
- Making an effort to stop any teeth grinding or clenching, especially during the day. One strategy that may prove very helpful when any teeth grinding is noticed is positioning your tongue between your teeth.
- Holding a warm compress against your cheek to relax your jaw muscles.
- Exercising regularly to reduce your stress level.
- Wearing a night guard.
- Taking warm, relaxing baths before bed.
- Employing relaxation techniques and meditation to help reduce stress.
- Getting massages to relieve muscle tension.
- Getting professional help if you experience anxiety, anger, severe stress or emotional problems.
Although the symptoms of teeth grinding are not always severe enough to require treatment, it’s vital to have a professional assessment done to know how severe the symptoms of bruxism are and to prevent further serious complications from occurring. You can ensure this is done professionally by searching online for something like “Sutton dentists.”