Bruxism

Reduce pain, prevent damage!

The habit of grinding, or clenching the teeth is called bruxism, and many adults and children are affected by this condition.

While its exact cause is unknown, most experts believe that bruxism can occur as a response to increased psychological stress and it is increasing in these days of global recession, where stress and anxiety is getting worse.

Bruxism involves any type of forceful contact between the teeth, whether silent and clenching, or loud and grating. Many people are not aware that they have this condition because they grind their teeth at night while asleep, although burxism can occur during daytime hours as well.

Nightly grinding can awaken roommates and sleeping partners. Teeth grinding is as common as snoring and very disturbing to bed partners.

Causes

Certain sleep disorders are accompanied by bruxism. Drinking alcohol and taking certain medications (for example, antidepressants) may worsen the bruxism. Malocclusion (improper alignment of the teeth) may also play a causative role or may determine the severity of symptoms related to bruxism.

Children may develop bruxism as a response to a cold and are more likely to develop it when their parents are affected.

OSA-Obstructive sleep – Many patients with this common sleep disorder had a problem with severe teeth grinding (bruxism) also.

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to reduce pain, prevent permanent damage to the teeth, and reduce clenching as much as possible.

Treatment of bruxism involves either behavior modification, such as stress management and relaxation therapy, or mechanical devices such as mouth guards to protect the teeth from the forces of contact. Yoga exercise will help, self relaxation, and self hypnosis can all be tried.

Mouth guard

Bruxism is not a dangerous disorder. However, it can cause permanent damage to the teeth and uncomfortable jaw pain, headaches, or ear pain.

To prevent damage to the teeth, mouth guards or appliances (splints) have been used since the 1930s to treat teeth grinding, clenching, and TMJ disorders. A splint may help protect the teeth from the pressure of clenching.

There are many different types of splints. Some fit over the top teeth, some on the bottom. They may be designed to keep your jaw in a more relaxed position or provide some other function.

In some people, just relaxing and modifying daytime behavior is enough to reduce nighttime bruxism. Methods to directly modify nighttime clenching have not been well studied. They include biofeedback devices, self-hypnosis, and other alternative therapies.