Bruxism is a medical term used broadly for a number of behaviors that may include the following:
A person suffering from the condition does not have any idea about his condition because it usually happens during the night time and is called nocturnal bruxism or sleep-related bruxism. But it can also happen when the person is awake often during situations that make them feel tense or anxious such as while lifting heavy objects, driving, reading and writing.
Bruxism is a very common condition. One in three people suffers from the condition. The condition can range from normal to severe. 10 percent patients grind their teeth so hard that teeth are reduced to nubs, and the only treatment left is reconstructive surgery.
Bruxism symptoms may include any one or more of the following:
The cause of teeth grinding can be any of the following:
Teeth grinding is most often caused by stress or anxiety and most of the people aren't aware of it. It often happens during sleep.
Certain medications have some side effects and teeth grinding is one of them. Teeth grinding is also linked to an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Examples of SSRIs include paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline.
Certain sleep disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) also cause bruxism. These disorders interrupt the breathing process while sleeping. Some other sleep disorders that can cause bruxism are:
Certain lifestyle factors that can make a person susceptible to teeth grinding may include:
The factors that may increase the risk of bruxism are:
All these strong emotions have a negative impact on the brain and body and can lead to teeth grinding.
Bruxism is very common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood.
A person who is aggressive, competitive or hyperactive has high chances of getting this disorder.
Taking certain psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants increases the risk of bruxism. Other factors such as smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol also increase the risk of bruxism.
Sleep bruxism tends to occur in families. A person having bruxism indicates that other members of the family also may have bruxism or a history of it.
Certain mental health problems and medical disorders increase the chances of bruxism. Such disorders include:
A dentist diagnoses bruxism in the following ways:
In an evaluation, the dentist looks for the signs and symptoms of changes in the teeth and mouth. The evaluation continues for the next several visits to see if the process is progressive and to determine the treatment.
If the dentist finds any sign of bruxism, he will try to find out its cause. It is done by asking questions about your general dental health, personality traits, medications, daily routines and sleep habits.
To evaluate the severity of bruxism, the dentist may check for:
If the dentist finds out that bruxism is related to major sleep issues, he or she may recommend a sleep medicine specialist. A sleep medicine specialist will conduct more tests such as a sleep study. This test assesses the number of episodes of teeth grinding and determine any sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
If the dentist finds out that bruxism is related to anxiety or other psychological issues, he may refer the person to a licensed therapist or counselor.
The treatment of bruxism is done in following ways:
Dental approaches refer to certain ways to preserve and improve the condition of the teeth. But these methods can only correct the damage to the teeth. They do not cure the disease. Some dental approaches are listed below:
These devices are designed to keep teeth separated so that the damage caused by clenching and grinding can be prevented. They are made up of hard acrylic or soft materials and they easily fit over the upper and lower teeth.
In severe cases, bruxism may damage the tooth (increased tooth sensitivity or the inability to chew properly). So, the dentist may reshape the chewing surfaces of the teeth or sometimes use crowns to repair the damage.
Since lifestyle habits lead to bruxism, managing them is one of the solutions to the problem. One or more of these approaches may help relieve the disorder:
Some learning strategies such as meditation (promotes relaxation) may help to fight the stress that may worsen the bruxism. If the bruxism is related to anxiety, a licensed therapist or counselor may help to calm down all these negative factors.
Practicing proper mouth and jaw position is very useful and effective to deal with bruxism. The dentist can show the best position of the mouth and jaw.
Biofeedback is a method that helps to learn how to control muscle activity in the jaw by using monitoring procedures and equipment.
Medications do not treat bruxism effectively but can be used for controlling the frequency of the condition. Some of the medications that are normally recommended for patients of bruxism are given below:
The doctor may suggest a muscle relaxant before bedtime, for a short period of time.
Botox is a form of botulinum toxin that may help some people with severe bruxism who don't respond to other treatments.
Short-term use of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications is sometimes recommended by the doctors to deal with stress or other emotional issues that may be causing your bruxism.
Treatment for associated disorders may include:
If bruxism occurs as a side effect of a drug, the doctor may decide to change the medication to a different one.
Sleep-related disorders such as apnea when treated, also have a positive effect on bruxism.
If the cause of bruxism is an underlying medical condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), then such conditions are treated first. Their treatment usually shows some positive results in the improvement of bruxism.
Exercise is effective in many ways. In case of bruxism also, exercise plays an important role in the treatment. Teeth grinding can be treated by doing jaw exercises daily.
A physical therapist can recommend more specialized exercises that will help relax and strengthen the jaw. The exercises are given below and they are performed three to six times, twice or thrice a day:
Some tips to prevent teeth grinding include:
The complications of bruxism are given below:
Teeth grinding effects can range from mild disturbance to serious problems (require a dental professional's attention). Side effects of teeth grinding include:
Teeth clenching and jaw clenching can have an ill effect on the jaw muscles. Some side effects may include:
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. It is found on either side of the jaw and it holds the upper and the lower jaw together and also allows movement. This joint connects the skull with the jawbone. Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorders that may arise because of bruxism are: