What is bruxism?

What is bruxism?

March 10, 2020 5:23 am Published by

Bruxism or tooth grinding is the action of clenching and releasing your jaw, grinding your teeth together during the process. Some people do it when they’re stressed, some do it because of their lifestyle – and many do it without even realising. Estimates are that as many as 10% of adults could be suffering from the condition. If you are guilty of grinding, then read on for advice on how to deal it.

  • How do I know if I’m doing it?

If you are a tooth grinder then there’s a high chance you don’t know at all. For many this is because they are doing it while they are asleep, known as nocturnal bruxism. If you often wake up with a stubborn headache and can’t figure out why, that could be why. You might also have pain and stiffness in and around your jaw area, head, neck or shoulders, or feel a clicking or popping when moving your jaws. You might find it hard to open your jaws in the first place.

  • How do I know if it’s a problem?

If you are frequently grinding, then as well as experiencing pain and discomfort during the day, your teeth might be damaged too. This is because frequent pressure and friction wears down the enamel, and the pressure can fracture teeth and chip edges. Over time, this can really noticeably affect the appearance of your smile (particularly if front teeth are affected) as well as cause structural problems in the teeth. it could even wear your teeth down to stumps! In these situations, it’s best to see your dentist for help. Occasional tooth grinding isn’t a big problem, though it’s good to try and keep it in check when you realise you’re doing it. Making an effort to keep jaws relaxed can really help.

  • The causes of bruxism

The reasons for tooth grinding could be external factors like stress at work, or poor sleep patterns. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea have also been linked to bruxism. Sleep apnea is where the throat becomes blocked, stopping proper breathing and causing the person to wake up. The tooth grinding can happen as a complication related to the breathing issues. Bruxism can also be caused by other problems in the mouth like misaligned or missing teeth, causing teeth to clash together in a way they wouldn’t normally. Sometimes tooth grinding doesn’t have an obvious cause at all.

  • What can be done to stop it?

Your dentist will be able to help diagnose if you are suffering from bruxism, and make suggestions on how to alleviate the symptoms. If the tooth grinding is being caused by external stress or diet, the answer is to make some lifestyle changes. Avoiding stimulants like coffee or alcohol is a good start. Learning some relaxation techniques can also help. If that’s not the answer, then wearing a mouthguard might be. Also called a bite plate or guard, wearing a mouthguard at night protects the teeth from the grinding motion, and can relieve the pain from a tense jaw. If a sleep disorder is causing your jaw clenching and tooth grinding, and you are overweight, then losing weight can help. If not, a device called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure device) can fix both problems by helping keep airways open, enabling breathing.

  • Other treatments

If the grinding is caused by an underlying condition like misaligned teeth – then it’s time to let your dentist help you fix them. A missing tooth can be dealt with by an implant or a crown. If teeth are crooked, orthodontic work can help. Nowadays solutions like Invisalign are near-invisible and are easy to fit into a busy lifestyle. If you have already experienced worn teeth as a result of grinding, then there are a range of solutions that can improve their appearance like crowns and bridges. You could be worth seeing an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to find the solution that’s right for you.

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