Teeth Grinding Causes & Treatments for Bruxism
Have you recently become aware that you grind your teeth? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that your partner or child grinds their teeth while they sleep? Regular teeth grinding is a condition called bruxism.
Bruxism is a fairly common condition that’s thought to affect around 1 in every 12.5 adults and a little less than 1 in every 3 children. Grinding your teeth is not always a serious condition but it can sometimes lead to severe symptoms and dental problems.
Understanding what causes bruxism and being able to identify the symptoms are the first steps towards getting the correct treatment. Whether you’re concerned that you may have bruxism, or you’re looking for more information for a loved one, then keep reading to learn more about the condition & how it’s treated.
One of the most important things to know about bruxism is that there are two types: awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Both types of bruxism are essentially the same, but they’re normally brought on by different causes.
Awake bruxism is when you subconsciously grind or gnash your teeth while you’re awake. Sleep bruxism, or nocturnal tooth grinding, is grinding or clenching that occurs while you’re asleep.
Like many conditions, bruxism can vary in severity. Mild cases of bruxism are unlikely to require much in the way of treatment, whilst severe cases need effective treatment to prevent serious dental problems from occurring.
Bruxism is not a life-threatening condition, but it can be very difficult to live with. If not treated quickly and effectively, bruxism can lead to complications that can have a greater impact on your health.
Bruxism Symptoms to Look Out For
A clear sign that you have bruxism is a frequent grinding, clenching, or gnashing of your teeth. However, as bruxism is very common during sleep, this may not be immediately noticeable unless someone alerts you to the sound.
There are a number of symptoms of bruxism that can help you to identify whether you or a loved one has the condition, these include:
- Tooth sensitivity or pain
- Soreness in the cheek from chewing
- Headaches or earaches
- Stiffness and pain around the jaw
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pain in the neck and face
- Worn or flattened teeth
- Fractured or chipped teeth/fillings
The symptoms of bruxism may not become apparent until the condition worsens, and even then, you may not experience all/any of them. In the worst cases, the wear on teeth can be so severe that patients need extensive dental work to restore function.
The Main Causes of Bruxism
It’s not always easy to determine the reason why an individual has bruxism, as there are a large number of possible causes. One of the first steps during a diagnosis is to determine whether you have sleep bruxism or awake bruxism, as often, the causes are very different.
Awake bruxism is often rooted in your emotions at the time, which may cause you to unconsciously grind your teeth. Emotions that can cause awake bruxism include anger, stress, frustration, and anxiety. Deep concentration can also cause bruxism.
Emotions can cause sleep bruxism, but it can also be the result of:
- An abnormal bite
- Crooked teeth
- Missing teeth
- A sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea or sleep paralysis
- Talking or violent behavior during sleep
- Semi-conscious hallucinations
Further causes of bruxism and factors that can increase risk include:
- Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, recreational drug use, high caffeine intake, and alcohol
- Taking certain medications, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
- A family history of bruxism
- Medical and mental health disorders, including dementia, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease
Visiting a local gurnee dentist is one of the best ways to get an accurate diagnosis of the cause of bruxism.
Teeth Grinding Treatment Options for Bruxism– Everything You Need to Know
Bruxism can become very damaging to your teeth, potentially leading to fractures or tooth loss. The condition can also damage your jaw and alter your facial appearance, so getting treatment early on is important.
The options available to treat bruxism are almost as varied as the causes of the condition. If bruxism is rooted in another condition, such as a sleep disorder, then treating the disorder will likely reduce teeth grinding.
If stress or anxiety is the cause of bruxism, then cognitive behavioral therapy may be advised, along with relaxation activities like yoga or massage before sleep. It’s also possible to reduce teeth grinding by learning how to correctly position the jaw and mouth, and by changing habits, such as by stopping the clenching or grinding of teeth as soon as it’s noticed.
Other common treatments for bruxism include:
- Mouth Guards and Splints – Splints and mouth guards are a common dental approach to treating bruxism. These are used to keep teeth separate and reduce the damage that grinding causes.
- Restorative Dental Procedures – When dental problems are the cause of bruxism, restorative treatments are often used to help stop the grinding. If the condition has caused serious damage to teeth, then corrective dental work may be required. Crowns, bridges, implants, and dentures can help to restore function and appearance.
- Medication – Over-the-counter pain relief can be used to reduce some symptoms. Medication to treat anxiety or stress can help if these problems are the root cause of an individual’s bruxism. In some instances, a doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants to be used before sleep in the short term.
There are also ways to treat bruxism at home, such as reducing alcohol and caffeinated food and drink intake, giving up smoking and recreational drugs, and avoiding chewing gum.
What to Do If You Suspect You Have Bruxism
If you suspect that you or a loved one has Bruxism and you’ve noticed one or more of the symptoms, then the best thing that you can do is visit your local doctor or book an appointment at the Beautiful Smiles Dental Center in Gurnee, Illinois.
Only by properly diagnosing bruxism and the cause of the condition, can your dentist create the right treatment plan to help you stop grinding your teeth and repair any damage already caused.