Bruxism is the act of grinding your teeth involuntarily. It is an unconscious habit of gritting or grinding your teeth or jaw that usually occur during sleep or in stressful situations. Bruxism affects both children and adults and can lead to excessive wear off of the teeth.

Do you grit, grind, clench, or gnash your teeth, often without your notice? If yes, then you are possibly suffering from bruxism.

Most people who grit or grind their teeth are actually not aware of it until they begin to experience the consequences of bruxism, which include damage to teeth, facial pain, and headaches.

To learn more about the causes of Bruxism and how can it be fixed, read on.

Causes of Bruxism

Till date, medical practitioners are yet to ascertain the exact causes of bruxism. However, it is generally believed that malocclusions, stress, lifestyle, illnesses, medications, and genetics are likely factors responsible for teeth grinding.

Research shows that about 21 to 50 percent of patients who suffer from bruxism have a family member or a direct relative who is also suffering or had suffered from bruxism either during their early stage in life or in their later stage. More so, some certain medications have been found to increase the risk of bruxism. These medications include sleeping pills, antidepressants, and recreational drugs like cocaine and Ecstasy.

Recent research also revealed that smokers, heavy drinkers, and those who consume excessive amounts of caffeine are also susceptible to bruxism.

Some medical experts also believe that patients with malocclusions or imperfect alignment of teeth and occlusal issues may tend to self-equilibrate their teeth in order to correct any problem with their bite. And this may cause bruxism.

Also, patients suffering from certain diseases like Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and sleeping disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) have been found to increase the risk of clenching their teeth.

Types of Bruxism

There are basically two types of Bruxism. These are the awake bruxism and sleep bruxism.

Awake Bruxism

This type of bruxism is the unconscious grinding or gritting of the teeth that takes place when the person is faced with high emotional situations like fear, frustration, tension, anxiety, or stress while awake. Awake bruxism is more predominant among females.

On the other hand, sleep bruxism is the involuntary clenching of the teeth/jaw in response to arousal during sleep. This type of bruxism equally affects both males and females alike. Bruxism in children is mostly due to a typical response to certain growing pains and would be outgrown after some times.

Although both types of bruxism can cause dental damages, sleep bruxism tends to cause more and severe damages than the awake bruxism.

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

Excessive tooth wear is one of the major signs of bruxism. As a result of frequent and continuous teeth grinding, your teeth may become damaged or cracked, exposing the most sensitive part of the teeth (dentin).

If bruxism is not treated early, the damaged or worn-out tooth may be infected by bacteria, and this may subsequently lead to dental cavities and other major dental issues.

Other signs and symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Frequent feeling of headaches
  • Grinding or tapping noise while asleep
  • Oversensitive Teeth
  • Swelling of the Periodontal Ligament (PDL)
  • Tooth Breakages
  • Sore jaw.

Bruxism Treatment

Occasional gritting, grinding, or clenching of the teeth is normal and shouldn’t cause any dental damage. However, regular gritting, grinding, or clenching of the teeth can harm your teeth or lead to other dental problems.

Teeth grinding, technically called Bruxism, is often triggered by stress or crooked teeth. Since teeth grinding occurs mostly during sleep, it may be difficult for patients to know that they have bruxism. However, a partner can sometimes hear the sound from the teeth grinding. When you go for a dental check-up, your dentist would also look out for signs and symptoms, such as jaw tenderness or any abnormalities in your teeth.

If bruxism treatment is not quickly administered, bruxism can lead to broken or loose teeth. it can also wear down your teeth so much that dental crowns, dentures, bridges, dental implant, or even root canal treatment may be needed. Bruxism can also cause damage to your jaw, change the shape of your face, and also cause hearing loss.

The following are useful bruxism treatment:

Wear a Bruxism Guard: when you complain to your dentist, your dentist can create a custom-fit bruxism guard for you to wear at night. This guard is a dental appliance made from plastic or acrylic. It is worn to fit over the upper teeth while you sleep. The bruxism guard doesn’t stop teeth grinding, however, it protects the teeth during bruxism from wearing down.

Regular Exercise: engaging in a regular workout, either a stroll or a major sweat session can help to alleviate stress, which is a common cause of bruxism.

Relaxing: anxiety is also a cause of bruxism. Relaxing and relieving yourself of stress just before going to bed can reduce teeth grinding.

Take a Warm Bath Before going to Bed: taking a warm water bath can help your jaw muscles to relax before you fall asleep. But if you don’t like night baths, you can also soak a cloth in warm water, squeeze it out, and apply it gently to your jaw. You can use a heating pad in case you don’t want to use water at all.  However, moist heat is better than dry heat because it penetrates better.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine: Bruxism may get worse with alcohol or caffeine consumption. Hence, avoid alcohol and coffee in the evening. Avoid or reduce your consumption of foods and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, chocolate, and colas.

Give your body a Massage: giving yourself a massage will help your body to relax. It also works great if you massage your jaw muscles. Gently give your jaw muscle a massage whenever you’re feeling tense.

Skip Chewy Foods: in case you can’t avoid them, keep your consumption of chewy foods, such as popcorn, steak, and gum to a minimum. This will help to give your jaw a break, reduce teeth grinding, and ease soreness.

Adopt New Habits: this practice is helpful if you suffer from awake bruxism. Try as much as possible to be aware of your mouth movement. As much as you can, keep your lips closed but keep your teeth apart. Whenever you feel your teeth clenching, drop down your jaw, and try to maintain that position. Train yourself to avoid Bruxism

Don’t Chew Anything Besides Food: chewing on objects other than foods can cause your jaw muscles to get accustomed to clenching. This makes you more likely to grind your teeth.

Seek Help: you may need to consult a psychiatrist or psychologist if you suffer from severe anxiety. Seeking help may help you to alleviate anxiety, which will, in turn, reduce teeth grinding.

You may not fully understand bruxism today. To learn more about, bruxism, bruxism treatment and ways to control it, kindly visit Edge Dental Houston today.