What is Bruxism?
It is the proper term for excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching. It is a common behavior that many do not realize affects your oral health and well being. At Chinook Mall Family Dental Clinic we feel it vital to know if you or a family member is grinding or clenching their teeth or jaw as there is help available before permanent damage is done.
Why Should I Be Concerned?
Excessive teeth grinding can be damaging to your teeth, wearing away the vital enamel that serves to protect them. In extreme cases, grinders may work through the outer and middle layers of their teeth, exposing nerves and requiring root canal treatment.
As well as damaging your teeth, severe grinding and clenching can also affect the quality of your sleep. Which can in turn lead to a raft of health issues like: drowsiness; poor attention span; reduced libido; and an increased risk of serious health problems.
What is the Cause?
There are several known causes for clenching and grinding. Poorly aligned teeth, responding to pain caused by teething and earaches, hyperactivity and stress can all result in teeth grinding in children. The condition is also known to be common in children who snore and those who breathe through their mouths at night.
Similarly, psychological triggers like stress and anxiety are major triggers for grinding in adults, along with sleep disorders (like sleep apnoea), and lifestyle factors like heavy smoking, caffeine intake, heavy alcohol consumption, and other drug use.
What are the Symptoms?
- Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
- Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
- Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
- Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
- Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely
- Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness
- Pain that feels like an earache, though it’s actually not a problem with your ear
- Dull headache starting in the temples
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
- Sleep disruption
What are the Treatment Options For Bruxism?
There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available. There are two forms of bruxism treatment. One tends to the symptoms of the disorder, while the other treats the disorder itself, trying to lessen occurrence of symptoms.
Treatments for teeth grinding symptoms aimed at alleviating soreness and tooth pain include:
- Using a warm, wet washcloth on the jaw
- Massaging jaw muscles, the neck, and face to relieve tension on trigger points
- Getting physical therapy
- Doing exercises to relax the jaw
- Visiting a chiropractor
Treatments for bruxism designed to reduce symptoms or get rid of teeth grinding altogether include:
- Drink ample water
- Get proper sleep
- Not chewing gum or on other objects
- Consciously relaxing the face and jaw throughout the day
- Buying a teeth grinding mouth guard
- Avoiding alcohol, which increases the urge to clench the teeth
- Avoiding caffeine, which can make you jumpy and tense
- Reducing Stress
Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, because it is only one of several potential causes of tooth wear. Only a trained professional such as Dr. Charchuk, can tell the difference between bruxing wear and wear caused by overly aggressive brushing, acidic soft drinks and abrasive foods. Because you may be unaware of it until complications develop, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.