Bruxism is the medical term used for grinding and clenching of teeth. Most people are not even aware that they are doing this and that it is a medical condition. People who have bruxism clench and grind their teeth unconsciously while being awake or asleep known as awake bruxism or sleep bruxism respectively.

Sleep bruxism is generally considered a sleep related disorder like sleep apnea, snoring etc. Many people can have a mild bruxism which does not need a medical intervention but a severe case of bruxism needs medical intervention because it can harm our teeth so it is important that we understand the signs and symptoms of bruxism.

Bruxism is most common in childhood and the lowest rates are found in people over the age of 65 years.

Symptoms of bruxism

  1. Chipped or cracked teeth – If you observe chipped or cracked tooth and you are unable to pinpoint what may have caused it, it can be due to bruxism.
  • Teeth abrasion – If your teeth look abraded the reason behind it may be bruxism.
  • Tense facial muscles, headaches and ear pain – If you wake up in the morning with regular headaches or tense facial muscles it is possible that you are clenching and grinding your teeth during the night in your sleep. Ear aches are also sometimes caused by bruxism.
  • Locking of the jaw – A jaw lock is also a very common symptom of bruxism.
  • Yellowing teeth – If you observe all or many of your teeth are becoming yellow almost simultaneously, this means their enamel is wearing off and one of the many reasons this may happen is bruxism.
  • Smooth surfaces on teeth – The biting surfaces of the teeth may become smooth due to continuous grinding of the teeth and this is also a very common symptom of bruxism.
  •  Indentations on the tongue or damage to soft tissue – may also be a side effect of bruxism.
  • Popping and clicking sounds of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) – If your jaw is making a clicking or popping sound this may be a sign of bruxism.

It is difficult to say if any of these above mentioned symptoms are solely due to bruxism, they can be due to other dental problems also so it is best to seek dental advice if you observe any of the above.

What can bruxism lead to?

Bruxism is not treated can lead to –

  1. Jaw pains
  2. Ear and Headaches
  3. Sore gums
  4. Stiffness of the jaw
  5. Sensitive teeth
  6. Loose teeth and broken teeth.
  7. Yellowing of teeth due to wearing of enamel and exposure of dentin.

Causes of bruxism

Bruxism occurs not just in adults but also children. No expert is sure as to why bruxism occurs. In children it may occur due to misaligned teeth. Stress is another reason for grinding of teeth and clenching of jaw muscles in kids. Most kids out grow these symptoms. Even in adults stress is supposed to be the most common reason for bruxism. It is also seen mostly in aggressive, competitive and rushed personalities. It is generally observed in people who are prone to getting tensed due to anger, pain or frustration. Some medicines like anti depressants also cause teeth grinding and clenching as observed in patients of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Even people suffering from GERD and having ADHD have been seen to have bruxism. Bruxism is also related to abnormal bite caused due to irregular teeth. Missing and crooked teeth are also sometimes the root cause of grinding and clenching of teeth.

Treatment of bruxism

If bruxism is sleep related your dentist may redirect you to a sleep medicine expert. If it is due to anxiety or some underlying psychological issue one can consult a counselor or therapist to get rid of the root cause.

A dentist may recommend you to wear a mouth guard or night guard to prevent the damage caused by clenching and grinding of the teeth.Night guards are generally custom made. In case there is a damage to the teeth, a dentist may reshape the teeth, use crowns to repair the damage or in severe cases suggest dental implants.

Other ways to treat bruxism involve stress and anxiety management. Becoming more aware of our behaviour and bringing about a change in it. Some people even go for what are known as bio feedbacks. It is an electronic instrument used to send you a signal in case of inappropriate behaviour so that you can correct it.

Can I do something to prevent bruxism?

Yes you can. You can do the following to reduce the risk or damage caused by bruxism –

  1. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine like colas, coffee, chocolate etc.
  2. Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol increases the grinding of teeth.
  3. Avoid chewing things like pencils, pens and even chewing gums.
  4. Relax your jaw muscles by doing warm pressing your jaws just before you go to sleep.
  5. Train yourself not to grind and chew. Become aware of your actions to change them.
  6. Try massaging your jaw before sleeping.
  7. Do regular stretching exercises to relax jaw muscles.
  8. Dehydration has been known to cause stiffness and grinding so drink plenty of water.
  9. Avoid oily and spicy food especially in the night to avoid GERD and grinding of teeth.
  10. Get enough sleep and address sleep related disorders like snoring, sleep apnea etc as soon as is possible.

Please note there is no permanent cure for bruxism, however we can control the symptoms and deal with any underlying cause if any.

Your health is in your hands. Take care of your health. You can always call Ensure Dental Care (the family dentist near you) on 940-274-3229 for more information or to schedule an appointment. Ensure Dental Care is the one of the best family dental clinics at Saginaw Texas. We accept all major insurance providers.

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