WHAT IS BRUXISM?
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you’re awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism). Bruxism is a common behavior; reports of prevalence range from 8–31% in the general population. Many kids have it (2 to 3 out of every 10 will grind or clench, experts say), but most outgrow it.
CAUSES OF BRUXISM
Doctors don’t completely understand what causes bruxism, but it may be due to a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors. Awake bruxism may be due to emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. Or it may be a coping strategy or a habit during deep concentration. Sleep bruxism may be a sleep-related chewing activity associated with arousals during sleep.
SYMPTOMS OF BRUXISM
Several symptoms are commonly associated with bruxism, including hypersensitive teeth, aching jaw muscles, headaches, tooth wear, and damage to dental restorations (e.g. crowns and fillings) to teeth. But symptoms may be minimal, without patient awareness of the condition.
- Excessive tooth wear, particularly attrition, which flattens the occlusal (biting) surface, but also possibly other types of tooth wear such as abfraction, where notches form around the neck of the teeth at the gumline.
- Tooth fractures, and repeated failure of dental restorations (fillings, crowns, etc.).
- Hypersensitive teeth, (e.g. dental pain when drinking a cold liquid) caused by wearing away of the thickness of insulating layers of dentin and enamel around the dental pulp.
- Enlargement of muscles of the mouth and pain at the joint of the lower jaw
- Headaches, particularly pain in the temples
The simplest solution is to use a professionally made night guard, which prevents the teeth from scraping against each other while you sleep. Your dentist may also have to restore damaged teeth with fillings or crowns to maintain the proper shape and size of the teeth. Biofeedback can be used for daytime grinders with the use of electronic instruments that measure muscle activity and these people are taught how to reduce muscle activity when the biting force becomes too extreme for them. If the underlying cause of your teeth grinding is stress or anxiety, psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), may help. If your teeth grinding is stress-related, it’s important to try to relax and get a good night’s sleep. There are a number of things you can try to help you wind down before you go to bed, including: yoga, deep breathing, massage, reading etc.
Meet your dentist today to find out the cause of your teeth grinding and find your peaceful, noiseless sleep! Keep smiling!