Being a teeth grinder (also known as bruxism) is a common condition, although, many are unaware that they have it. Fortunately, despite the commonness of the condition, there are rarely severe complications resulting from bruxism. That being said, it is still good to know if you are a teeth grinder to mitigate symptoms that interfere with your daily life.
Below you will find facts and information about teeth grinding.
1. What is Bruxism?
The clinical term for teeth grinding, gnashing or clenching is bruxism. People who have bruxism either grind their teeth consciously, known as awake bruxism, or while they are asleep, known as sleep bruxism.
Awake bruxism is not as severe as sleep bruxism because people are often unaware that they grind their teeth during the night. In addition, other sleep disorders are common for people who have sleep bruxism.
It is important to know the basic signs and symptoms of sleep bruxism because the individual may not become aware of the condition until it is too late and painful complications arise.
2. Signs and Symptoms
If you experience any signs or symptoms of bruxism, it is recommended that you go see a dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment. The following are signs and symptoms of bruxism:
- Loud sounds from teeth grinding and clenching;
- Flat, chipped, loose or fractured teeth, in severe cases, worn tooth enamel exposing deep layers of tooth;
- Disruption of sleep of the individual or their partner;
- Dull headaches originating from the temples;
- Heightened tooth pain or sensitivity;
- Pain or soreness in your neck, face and/or jaw;
- Pain that feels like an earache but is actually pain originating from your jaw muscles being overworked;
- Tired or tight jaw muscles or lockjaw (being unable to open or close your mouth entirely);
- Inner cheek sores, tongue sores or other damage to your inner mouth.
Doctors are unsure as to what exactly causes bruxism, it is presumed to be caused by a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors. The following are factors that may increase the risk of developing bruxism: young age, stress, family with bruxism, “type A” or assertive personality type, certain medication intake, substance abuse and having other disorders like ADHD, epilepsy or sleep apnea which are associated with bruxism.
There are several other estimations that doctors have made in relation to bruxism. Sleep bruxism may be a chewing action associated with arousal during sleep. Awake bruxism may be induced by emotions such as anxiety, anger, frustration and other stress. Alternatively, awake bruxism may be a habit or coping strategy related to deep concentration.
For most, bruxism does not cause severe implications, it is mostly an irritating and uncomfortable condition. However, some suffer from adverse complications if bruxism is left untreated.
Damage to teeth or jaw, damages to devices in your mouth like crowns or dentures, frequent headaches and, intense jaw, face or neck pain that interferes with your daily life are all severe complications that may occur.
If you identify that you have bruxism, your dentist can create a custom mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding. For the long run, making lifestyle adjustments can reduce or eliminate bruxism. Seeking therapy for relief of extreme emotions, starting a physical workout routine, see a physical therapist and obtain muscle relaxants for the nighttime are all things that can better your bruxism in the long-term.
Other things that can help your bruxism is avoiding caffeine, tobacco and alcohol, avoiding excessive chewing habits like chewing on pens, nail biting or gum which trains your jaw to clench, and relaxing your jaw before bed using a warm cloth.