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What Is Bruxism?

The involuntary, unconscious, and excessive clenching and grinding of teeth is known as bruxism. Bruxism is characterized by forceful pressure between the upper and lower teeth. A person may have hypersensitive teeth, gum recession, loose or damaged teeth, and excessive wear on restorations such as crowns and fillings.

Bruxism can occur while awake, which is known as diurnal or awake bruxism, or while sleeping, which is known as sleep or nocturnal bruxism. The primary cause of bruxism has not been identified. However, it is likely to be a combination of reasons.

Sleep bruxism is classified as a sleep-related disorder. Individuals who clench or grind their teeth (brux) while sleeping are more prone to having other sleep problems such as snoring and breathing pauses (sleep apnea).

Teeth clenching and grinding at night can cause strain on the mouth and jaw and irritate neck muscles. Reducing this pain is an essential part of treating sleep bruxism.

Bruxism affects people of all ages, but it is more common in children, teenagers, and young adults. Most people with bruxism are unaware that they are grinding or clenching their teeth at night until they encounter adverse effects on their dental health.

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Signs & Symptoms of Bruxism

Most individuals who grind and clench their teeth at night are unaware that they’re doing it. The most visible sign of bruxism is the sound of scraping and grinding. It makes an unpleasant noise that anyone nearby is likely to hear. When any of the following signs or symptoms occur, treatment of bruxism is recommended:

If you are experiencing any of the mentioned signs and symptoms, consult your dentist immediately. Your dentist will be able to evaluate whether grinding is causing damage to your teeth and jaw. During your visits, your dentist will closely monitor your teeth and mouth for any signs of change. They will also evaluate whether you require treatment to manage the symptoms of bruxism.

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Causes of Bruxism

If your dentist suspects you have bruxism, they will ask questions about your overall dental health, medications, daily routines, and sleep habits to try to determine the cause.

At Byford Smiles, our dentist will examine your dental health by recommending dental x-rays to check for any obvious dental problems and examing underlying bone and possible affected tissue in your mouth.

Doctors don’t know what causes bruxism exactly, although it could be a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors. Possible causes may include the following:

The following risk factors may put you at risk of developing bruxism:

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Common Treatments for Bruxism

While there is no cure to stop forceful grinding entirely, there are treatments that can minimize its frequency, impact, and symptoms. Moreover, home care tips can help you cope with bruxism.

Multiple components of treatments may be used to treat bruxism to manage pain and other symptoms while also reducing the intensity of teeth grinding and its possible consequences.

Treatment may also depend on the intensity or severity of bruxism you may be experiencing. Seeking medical advice from a dental health professional is advised.

Many children outgrow bruxism on their own, and many adults do not grind or clench their teeth in a way that requires treatment.

Mouthguards

Mouthguards (occlusal splint) are a type of dental splint that may be helpful for bruxism during sleep. They function by cushioning your teeth and preventing them from grinding while you're sleeping at night. Mouthguards help absorb some of the pressure associated with clenching and grinding and lessen noise caused by grinding.

Mouthguards can be custom-fit by the dentist or bought over-the-counter. They are made in either hard acrylic or soft materials and are designed to fit over your upper or lower teeth.

Custom-made mouthguards may help protect your teeth from destruction if you have severe bruxism. They may also help to relieve jaw tension. Custom-made mouthguards are more expensive than over-the-counter alternatives, but they may be a better fit for some people.

Dental Correction

In severe cases, when tooth wear has caused sensitivity or the inability to chew properly, your dentist may need to reshape your teeth's chewing surfaces or use crowns to fix the damage.

Orthodontic braces

If the patient has a malocclusion (when teeth are not in a normal position with nearby or opposing teeth), the patient may be advised to wear braces. For mild to moderate cases, invisible braces are recommended since they give equivalent protection as mouth guards. Depending on your case, you can discuss this option with your dentist.

Stress or Anxiety Management

If you grind your teeth as a result of stress, you may be able to avoid the problem by adopting relaxation techniques such as meditation. If the bruxism is caused by anxiety, seeking help from a professional therapist or counsellor may be helpful.

Relaxation techniques are an all-natural way of helping. Relaxation techniques can play a significant role in sleep hygiene, and obtaining enough sleep enables a person to respond to stress in a healthier manner.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a technique that helps people become aware of and reduce unwanted behaviours. It can help with both sleep and awake bruxism.

It is an approach that teaches you to manage muscle activity in your jaw by using monitoring procedures and equipment.

While there is no cure to stop forceful grinding entirely, there are treatments that can minimize its frequency, impact, and symptoms. Moreover, home care tips can help you cope with bruxism.

Multiple components of treatments may be used to treat bruxism to manage pain and other symptoms while also reducing the intensity of teeth grinding and its possible consequences.

Treatment may also depend on the intensity or severity of bruxism you may be experiencing. Seeking medical advice from a dental health professional is advised.

Many children outgrow bruxism on their own, and many adults do not grind or clench their teeth in a way that requires treatment.

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FAQs About Bruxism

How long does bruxism last?

When most children lose their baby teeth, they generally stop grinding. However, some children continue to grind throughout adolescence. Additionally, if the bruxism is a result of stress, it will persist until the tension subsides.

Treatments may be effective for mild bruxism. However, persistent bruxism may last longer. If your teeth grinding interferes with speaking, swallowing, or chewing, it may last 1 to 5 months. It may improve with botox injection, but there is no sufficient evidence to support it. It is best to consult with your doctor before considering any medical treatment.

Can bruxism be cured?

Unfortunately, there is no current cure for bruxism. However, several treatment options are available to reduce the symptoms and ease the pain due to teeth grinding.

Some people may be unaware that they are causing damage to their teeth while sleeping. This may put the person at risk of further complications. If bruxism is left untreated, there is a potential for significant harm to dental health and even harm to the jaw. 

The common treatments for bruxism are the following:

  • repair of tooth damage.
  • A customized mouthguard ('occlusal splint') to wear at night. In most circumstances, a biting splint can only alleviate symptoms and will not prevent you from grinding your teeth entirely.
  • Biofeedback
  • Botox injection
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Changing lifestyle

Some home remedies to reduce the irritation caused by the symptoms of bruxism are:

  • Minimize your consumption of foods like nuts, popcorn, and many hard candies.
  • Be careful of peanut butter and other sticky, difficult-to-chew foods.
  • Avoid chewing gums.
  • Change your sleeping position or pillow to provide more head and neck support.
  • To relieve pain, apply a hot compress or an ice pack.
  • Do mouth exercises to help with the movement of your jaw.
  • Massage. Head-and-neck massages can help some patients ease muscle tension and pain caused by teeth grinding. A massage therapist or physical therapist may perform massage or demonstrate procedures that can be done at home to relax the jaw and surrounding muscles.

When should I see a dentist?

If you are experiencing discomfort in your mouth, jaw pain, or neck due to teeth grinding, you should consult your dentist. Sleep bruxism can have a negative impact on your oral and sleep health. A consultation with a health professional can help you avoid more severe problems in the future.

A physician or dentist can also determine whether your teeth grinding is related to other health conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which may necessitate additional testing and treatment.

While there are some remedies you may do at home to help with teeth grinding, it's best to consult with your dentist or doctor, who can offer the best treatment for your unique condition.

If you observe your child grinding their teeth or showing other signs or symptoms of bruxism, make sure to bring it up at your child's next dental appointment.

Risk factors for bruxism

Several risk factors may contribute to bruxism. These included the following:

  • Stress. It is considered to exacerbate teeth grinding subconsciously when you are stressed and frustrated and have intense concentration.
  • Age. Bruxism in children is common. But it can also affect all ages.
  • Genes. If you have bruxism in your family, you are more prone to experience it as well.
  • Certain substances. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine consumption may increase the risk of bruxism.
  • Personality. Having an aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive personality type can raise your risk of bruxism.
  • Sleep disorders. Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea may be associated with bruxism.

Certain medications. Bruxism is a rare adverse effect of several psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants and antipsychotics. Other drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine may have side effects of teeth grinding.

While there is no cure to stop forceful grinding entirely, there are treatments that can minimize its frequency, impact, and symptoms. Moreover, home care tips can help you cope with bruxism.

Multiple components of treatments may be used to treat bruxism to manage pain and other symptoms while also reducing the intensity of teeth grinding and its possible consequences.

Treatment may also depend on the intensity or severity of bruxism you may be experiencing. Seeking medical advice from a dental health professional is advised.

Many children outgrow bruxism on their own, and many adults do not grind or clench their teeth in a way that requires treatment.

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