Dental Bruxism - Cause, Symptoms and Treatment
The gnashing of teeth is a typical sign of anger or anxiety but did you know it can actually cause significant damage to your teeth.
What is Dental Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)?
Bruxism is a common condition within the population and involves involuntary grinding as a response to anger fear or stress in their lives. Often this condition manifests when you are asleep making it hard to identify. Most often the grinding is noticed by partners but some common signs are a dull constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up.
Your dentist can always spot the signs of bruxism, meaning that regular check-ups are important to spot the signs early before any major damage can occur.
How Common is Bruxism?
Bruxism is more common in the young than the old with around 15% of young people suffering from it compared to around half that of older people.
Of course, due to the nature of the condition it is hard to get exact figures as many people are simply not aware that they are grinding their teeth!
What are the symptoms of Bruxism?
The main symptoms of bruxism are the involuntary clenching and grinding of teeth most often during sleep. These movements are very similar to normal chewing actions, but with much more force being imparted.
The grinding itself is not constant but happened in distinct episodes throughout the night. Unfortunately, the frequency is inconsistent and may not even happen on a regular timescale, depending on the person.
What are the effects of Bruxism?
The most severe effects of bruxism are significant damage to the teeth. Often this manifests itself in the form of pain, dental erosion of the enamel and teeth becoming mobile. Any prosthetic work present in the mouth such as dental crowns, fillings and even dental implant can become damaged.
Severe grinding can also cause joint pain in the jaw. The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull proper and can be placed under a lot of pressure during bruxism episodes.
Often these issues will take the form of difficulty chewing, chronic pain and clicking or popping within the jaw itself.
How do you treat Bruxism?
Nightguards One of the most common and simplest ways of reducing the impact of bruxism. This treatment involves creating a custom plastic mouth guard that fits over your teeth while you sleep and is minimally invasive.
This allows the appliance to take the stresses of the grinding within the elasticity of the material itself, instead of being transferred to your teeth.
Medication Some medications can reduce the symptoms of bruxism, and most work by altering brain chemistry in order to reduce the muscles activity during the night. Most medications are difficult to maintain over the long term however and often have side effects that make them less than suitable for some patients.
Stress Reduction Stress is a significant contributor to bruxism, so taking steps to reduce your overall stress levels will help limit the occurrence of grinding episodes. Some therapies can help as well as sleep techniques that improve your overall sleep quality in line with stress levels.
Of course, removing stress entirely can be a difficult prospect, so often these techniques look to reduce the overall impact the stress has on the person instead.