Bruxism is the dental term for teeth clenching and grinding, and as you can probably guess from that description, it is not good for you or your teeth. Most people grind and clench their teeth occasionally, which does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
One of the tricky things about bruxism is it can be hard to diagnose, particularly if it occurs when you sleep. Your dentist won’t notice it until damage is already done, and you can sleep through it. So bruxism is normally identified by loved ones or other symptoms.
Because Prevent Dental Suite doesn’t want you risk the long-term consequences of teeth grinding, we’re taking this opportunity to share information about its symptoms, effects, and treatments.
Types of bruxism
Bruxism is divided into awake and sleep bruxism.
Awake Bruxism can be triggered by anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, or tension. It may also be a coping strategy or a habit caused by deep concentration.
Sleep Bruxism occurs at night, and is often caused by triggers similar to those that cause awake bruxism.
Issues associated with bruxism
Teeth grinding can cause a range of oral health problems, which may include:
- Cracked tooth enamel
- Excessive wear and tear on the teeth
- Broken teeth or restorations
- Strain on the joints and soft tissue of the jaw joint
- Enlargement of the jaw muscles (in rare cases)
Triggers for bruxism
Some of the factors that may trigger bruxism include:
- Emotional stress, such as anger or anxiety
- Serious concentration
- Physical effort or stress, such as illness, nutritional deficiency or dehydration
- Poor tooth alignment
- Drug misuse (particularly amphetamines)
- Erupting teeth (babies and children).
Do I suffer from bruxism?
The signs and symptoms of bruxism include:
- Grinding sounds while sleeping
- Headache, jaw joint pain, or ear pain
- Aching teeth
- Aching or stiffness of the face and temples upon waking
- Aching or stiffness in the jaws while chewing
- Clenching the jaw when angry, anxious or concentrating
- Sensitive teeth
- Cracked or chipped tooth enamel
- Tissue damage on the cheek caused by cheek biting
- Wobbly teeth.
How is bruxism treated?
People usually aren’t diagnosed with bruxism until some damage is already done, so treatment follows two paths. The first path is repair of damage, and the second path is behavioural or physical treatment to eliminate the causes of bruxism.
Learning to relax. This means resting the tongue, teeth, and lips. Making a sufferer aware of their problem and teaching them to rest their tongue upward with teeth apart and lips shut may be enough to change behaviour that leads to bruxism.
Soothe your jaws. If your jaw aches moisten a cloth in warm water, squeeze it, and apply it to an aching jaw.
Keep visiting Prevent Dental Suite. Regular dental visits are very essential as it allows us to check for physical signs of bruxism. If we notice signs of bruxism, we will analyse it, attempt to determine its cause, and recommend appropriate treatment.
Stress management. Therapies for stress management; relaxation therapy, meditation, yoga, etc. can help manage stress and reign in night time teeth grinding.
Using a night guard. A night guard is a mouth appliance that’s worn on the arches of the teeth to absorb the force of biting and grinding due to bruxism in sleep. It forms a barrier between the top and bottom teeth to stop the grinding of the two arches. The night guard receives the wear and tear instead of the teeth.
This appliance can prevent future damage to the teeth and helps change the patient’s destructive behavior and to relieve the tension-headache. While mouth guards are the management method of choice for bruxism in the short term, side effects may eventually outweigh the advantages of using them in the long run. Consequently, the underlying causes of bruxism also need to be addressed.
Medicine. In general, medications aren’t very effective, however they are sometimes recommended. Examples of medications that may be used for bruxism include:
- Muscle relaxants. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime, for a short period of time.
- Botox injections. Injections of Botox, a form of botulinum toxin, may help some people with severe bruxism.
- Medication for anxiety or stress.
High-quality Dental Care at Prevent Dental Suite
Prevent Dental Suites is comprised of dedicated dental professionals who provide gentle and patient-oriented care to offer the best-quality dental service from the moment patients enter into our office. Dr. Shilpa Gupta is the resident dentist at our Kallangur clinic, and combines many years’ experience with personable service. To learn more about our amazing team, go to our team page.
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