What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth. It does not usually cause any harm. But when it occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other complications can arise.

Bruxism can occur at any time, but it’s most common at night while sleeping. Some people unconsciously grind their teeth during the day, when they feel anxious or tense. This is different from tooth grinding or clenching that occurs at night, which is called as sleep bruxism. Most children who are bruxers do it at night, while adults do either at daytime or night time.

Unfortunately, people with sleep bruxism usually aren’t aware of the habit, so they aren’t diagnosed with the condition until complications occur. That’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek the necessary care.

Causes of Bruxism

The causes of bruxism are unknown, though several factors are thought to precede its occurrence. These are:

  • Emotional factors such as daytime stress, anxiety, anger, pain and frustration.
  • Sleep disorders can trigger bruxism
  • Nervous system malfunction,
  • Poor diet
  • Allergies
  • Alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants can worsen tooth grinding.
  • People who are competitive, aggressive, and rushed may also be at greater risk for bruxism.

Symptoms of Bruxism

  • Sore or tender jaws, neck pain sensitive teeth, teeth looks flat or worn are some common signs of moderate to severe bruxing.
  • Other physical indications of chronic teeth grinding are chipped teeth; increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages; and loose or broken fillings.
  • Tooth grinding or tooth clenching during sleep or daytime
  • Sounds associated with bruxism
  • Bruxism causes Tempromandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), in which the cartilage around the joints of the upper and lower jaws becomes irritated. This irritation can cause pain in the jaw and ears.
  • Jaw muscle discomfort
  • Morning headaches associated with joint and muscle strain

Complications of Bruxism

  • Continuous bruxism can cause permanent damage of teeth.
  • If bruxism is not treated, it can lead to gum damage and can cause complicated jaw-related disorders such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. Pain and injury to the jaw may require surgery.
  • Regular bruxism can move the jaws out of proper balance. Pain and injury to the jaw may require surgery.
  • It can also cause soreness and fatigue in the jaw and facial muscles.
  • Chronic bruxism can result in hearing loss.
  • It can even change the appearance of the face.

Diagnosis for Bruxism

A dentist can detect bruxism. The diagnosis for bruxism is generally based on the patient’s dental history and a dentist’s careful reexamination.
Family members or friends can also observe bruxism. When diagnosed early, teeth grinding can be treated before it causes permanent damage to the teeth.

Treatment for Bruxism

There is no known cure for bruxism. But there are ways to reduce or stop bruxism.
In severe cases dentists prescribe bite plate to use. It is fitted to upper or lower teeth and worn at night to prevent bruxism.

Important tips to prevent Bruxism

  • Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Avoid alcohol which worsens the situation.
  • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food.
  • Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • If you have you are suffering from any sleep disorders, take the necessary steps.
  • Avoid stress and anxiety.
  • Stress reduction and other lifestyle modifications, including the avoidance of alcohol and caffeine, may also be helpful.