Bruxism is the name given to the medical condition which involves the repeated motion of grinding or clenching the teeth. The majority of people who suffer from bruxism tend to grind their teeth during sleep but it can be something which happens throughout the day. It is thought to be related to stress and side effects of certain medications and can be either mild or chronic.
Chronic cases of bruxism result in intense pain in the muscles of the cheeks and jaw line. Also continued clenching and teeth grinding will cause damage to the actual teeth. Some people are unaware that they actually grind their teeth and it is usually after a routine dental check that the dentist will pick up on any damage to the teeth or abnormalities to the face. Bruxism consists of intense pressure on the teeth and jaw and when severe it can in fact lead to more serious conditions such as arthritis and temporomandibular joint disorders.
Bruxism relief is generally in the form of a mouth guard or splint which can be inserted into the mouth at night time before bed. These can be custom made to fit the mouth of the individual by his or her dentist but do come at a cost. They are however quite effective in preventing any further damage to the tooth surfaces and stop any clenching or grinding from repositioning the teeth in the mouth.
Other bruxism relief may be in the form of pain medication which can help reduce any swelling or pain felt namely in the muscles of the face and the jaw. Alternative treatments include specific exercises for the jaw and certain life style changes than help reduce or eliminate stress levels.
Teeth grinding or bruxism can cause many different symptoms. The most common symptoms are headaches, facial pain and abnormal wearing or damage of the teeth. The effects from grinding the teeth are permanent but others, particularly facial pain can cease once the grinding comes to a halt.
Teeth grinding symptoms include headaches, sometimes severe depending on how intense the grinding is, facial muscle pain known as myalgia, particularly in the jaw and cheek areas, earache, tightness of the shoulder muscles and pain in the jaw known as the temporomandibular joint. The teeth can then become worn down and have increased sensitivity and possibility of decay and removal. Gums can recede or become inflamed and at times it can even be difficult to open the mouth and extend the jaws.
Not all cases of bruxism are severe so it is therefore not always the case that tooth wear occurs. However, when it becomes obvious that the grinding is taking its toll on the teeth it is recommended that you seek dental treatment to prevent further damage or even infection. It is suggested that you talk to your dentist as soon as you become aware of the fact you may be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. Your dentist can then check for signs of bruxism and help suggest the best possible treatment. By taking action early, you can detect any underlying problems that may be present and catch them before they advance.
If you are suffering from anxiety and stress, pop along to your GP and discuss the possibility of bruxism. Treatment is available to help control and manage stress levels and this in turn will help with the symptoms caused by bruxism.
Whats is Sleep Bruxism?
It is estimated that around ten per cent of the population suffer from bruxism, a condition characterized by grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. Over time bruxism causes tooth wearing, damage and even breakage. Disorders of the jaw can also occur, causing pain and limited movement. Bruxism in most common in adults aged between twenty five and forty five but it is also known for children to grind their teeth. bout eight to 10 percent of the adult population have a secret malady called sleep bruxism, a sleep disorder characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth. Some people do it unconsciously even when they are awake. Stress usually has something to do with it, but the origins of the disorder are quite varied. The effects of bruxism are seldom anywhere near as bad as during sleep when the body’s protective mechanisms are turned off. Without proper treatment, the condition may cause serious damage to the teeth and surrounding tissue, as well as trigger headaches and jaw pain.
There are two types of bruxism, classified as awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Symptoms of sleep bruxism include continuous teeth grinding and rhythmic jaw muscle contractions. Some cases of bruxism can be related to other medical conditions and the use of certain medications. Anti depressants and recreational drugs are known to cause teeth grinding as are medical conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Under normal circumstances, a person’s teeth make contact for about 20 minutes a day with only 20 to 40 pounds of pressure to be able to chew. During sleep bruxism, however, the upper and lower teeth come into direct contact in as much as 40 minutes per hour, and with a force of about 250 pounds on the first molar.
Sleep bruxism is not a disease, but it is the third most common sleep disorder after sleep talking and snoring. This condition is more prevalent in children, who often outgrow it, and causes behind adult cases are very different from those of the younger age bracket.
Studies have shown that sleep bruxism usually occurs as a response to arousals during sleep, thus denoting a possible sleep disorder. When the person grinds their teeth, it is done in clusters and these are associated with arousals. It is thought that obstructive sleep apnea is strongly related to sleep bruxism and the teeth grinding and jaw clenching comes about when breathing is obstructed. Often the individual will also snore, gasp for breath and even mumble as part of the bruxism occurrence. Other causes of sleep bruxism are associated with sleep walking, anxiety and stress and other medical conditions which cause sleep disorders.
Although there is no cure for sleep bruxism it can be managed and preventative measures taken to reduce further damage to both the teeth and jaw. Mouth guards, pain relief medication and stress management are the usual form of treatment used when dealing with bruxism.
How Stress Affects Bruxism
Bruxism is not something that we are necessarily aware we have, especially if it is done during sleep. Teeth grinding is not uncommon but can lead to some most uncomfortable symptoms, namely those of pain in the jaw and face and reoccurring headaches. Most people who suffer from bruxism are not even aware that they actually grind or clench their teeth. Since it is something which is mainly done during sleep that is to say during the night, it is usually a second party or partner that detects the teeth grinding. Depending on how long it has been going on for, most people who have bruxism will have some damage to their teeth. This is generally seen as flattened tooth surfaces and harder and firmer muscles in the cheeks and jaw line.
Bruxism is something which is often done subconsciously but thought to be highly connected to stress or specific medications. Teeth grinding is not uncommon in children but tends to be sporadic and short term. In adults, bruxism can be chronic so it is crucial that the cause behind it is established in order to stop it from happening. Relief is usually in the form of a mouth guard and this is placed in the mouth between the teeth before going to sleep. It is however said that mouth guards do not stop bruxism but rather merely prevent further damage to the teeth. People who wear mouth guards and who have severe bruxism will often grind down on the mouth guard.
Usually someone who suffers from bruxism will be told they are clenching their jaws or grinding their teeth by their partner, given that the act of teeth grinding can be audible in the silence of the night. It can also be somewhat embarrassing so it is important that partners, family and friends are supportive and understanding when it comes to helping the bruxism sufferer.
The majority of adults who have bruxism can relate their condition to an underlying cause. The most popular cause behind bruxism is stress and once this is established the appropriate treatment can then be suggested and undertaken. Money worries, job related stress and personal issues can be the main contributors of stress and it is important to learn how to off load in order to reduce those stress levels which can lead to a whole host of medical complaints.
Reducing stress levels is a huge step in the prevention of bruxism and the best way to lower your stress levels is to partake in regular exercise. Low impact exercises such as walking, swimming and even yoga can really help you to relax. Listening to music, talking things over and going along to group therapy classes are all positive measures you can take to help relieve the symptoms and occurrence of teeth grinding.
Learning how to reduce stress levels and make some serious life style changes can be the best way to stop bruxism. Reducing tension in the face and adopting relaxation techniques before bedtime can really help control stress levels and minimize bruxism.
Home Remedies for Bruxism
- Before retiring to bed you can chew on an apple, cauliflower or carrot. This will calm your overactive mouth and prevent grinding.
- To relax your jaw muscles use a warm washcloth around the sides of your face. Continue doing this for sometime. This will relax the clenched muscles that cause head pain. Do it before bedtime to benefit more.
- Be relaxed and avoid stress by taking warm baths and massages. Massage your neck muscles, shoulders and face to relax peacefully. Stress relieving exercises should help you unwind. Squeeze a tennis ball; it may come in handy to get rid of the stress.
- Sleeping on your side or your stomach may increase your chances of bruxism. The best position to sleep is on your back to reduce the stress.
- Use contoured pillow if you can’t sleep on your back. Place the contoured pillow under you face and the ordinary pillow between your arms. Sleeping in this position reduces the strain on your jaw and neck and prevents you from rolling over onto your face.
- Avoid consumption of alcohol as it inadvertently affects your sleep and increases the movement of your jaw which causes clenching. Cut down on caffeine and carbohydrates like candy and pastries.
- Try acupressure, it may help you relax for a good night sleep thus avoiding any incidents of teeth clenching or grinding.
Final Tips on Bruxism
Knowing how to stop bruxism or teeth grinding is relevant to what is causing it in the first place. In most cases bruxism is the result of stress so in order to stop or control teeth clenching and grinding, eliminating tress can be the answer behind the cure.
Without doubt stress is guilty of many acquired health complaints and conditions, bruxism being one of them. Whether it is money worries or something of a more personal nature stress can be the number one cause of teeth grinding. Since bruxism can lead to other problems such as dental damage and even facial deformity, it is important to establish the underlying cause and treat it to avoid further harm from occurring.
Exercise and opting for a healthy diet can help reduce bruxism as they are both great for managing stress levels. Listening to music and learning how to do some basic facial massage techniques can also help eliminate stress and stop bruxism. Once it can be pin pointed what might be causing stress, finding a way to cope and deal with it is the first step in controlling bruxism. For those taking medication it can be a good idea to check that it is not that which is causing the teeth grinding. Some medications are known for causing bruxism as a side effect so it might require a change in medication in order to stop the grinding.
Visiting the dentist is also recommended when bruxism is first noticed, as a dental check will not only establish the severity of the condition but also determine whether or not there are any underlying dental problems. In some cases the structure of the teeth may be the cause behind the clenching and grinding. Treatment is usually the use of a mouth guard or in severe cases of bruxism corrective surgery may be required to realign the jaw and teeth.