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Bruxism, also known as Teeth Grinding, is a condition in which you can’t help but grind and clench your teeth constantly, even when at night while sleeping. Some people suffer from nocturnal teeth grinding while others suffer from teeth grinding during the day as well due to stress-related issues.

Mild bruxism isn’t a cause for concern because that’s normal. But if your bruxism continues for long periods of time, then you need to seek treatment because persistent teeth grinding can lead to several issues like dental damage, TMD, toothaches, headaches, and so much more.

It’s hard to identify the root cause of bruxism because it can happen due to various physiological and psychological factors. At Sun Ridge Smiles, our dentists carefully examine your teeth and discuss your teeth grinding condition in order to diagnose the root cause of bruxism and treat it accordingly. Please continue reading for a detailed discussion of bruxism/ teeth grinding and how to treat or stop teeth grinding.

Symptoms of Bruxism

Most people don’t even know they’re suffering from bruxism and teeth grinding — not until they visit a dentist and realize their teeth are damaged because of bruxism. It’s important to identify the symptoms of teeth grinding at an early stage so you can minimize the damage.

The following are some of the primary symptoms of bruxism/ teeth grinding:

  • Constant teeth grinding and clenching.
  • Constantly grinding your teeth either while sleeping or awake.
  • Nocturnal teeth grinding is usually loud enough to disturb your partner’s sleep.
  • Cracks and fractures in your teeth.
  • Exposed dentin layer because of the gradual wearing off of your enamel due to grinding.
  • Tightened, sore, or damaged jaw muscles due to TMD.
  • Soreness of facial muscles.
  • Earaches.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia due to consistent nocturnal teeth grinding.

Causes of Bruxism

As mentioned previously, bruxism can be caused by both physiological and psychological factors so its hard to pinpoint the exact cause of teeth grinding.

The following are some of the most common causes of bruxism:

  • Teeth grinding happens because of stress-related issues like anxiety, frustration, anger, and other such issues. In most cases, you’re not even aware you’re clenching your teeth.
  • Young children often suffer from teeth grinding, but this recedes with age.
  • Aggressive and competitive people generally suffer from teeth grinding because of stress and anger.
  • Psychiatric medications and drugs often lead to bruxism and teeth grinding as a side effect.
  • Bruxism also happens because of excessive smoking, tobacco consumption, or drugs.
  • Nocturnal teeth grinding happens because of genetic factors as well.
  • You may also suffer from bruxism as a symptom of other medical conditions like sleep apnea, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.

Complications of Bruxism

Most people don’t seek treatment for bruxism because they don’t realize just how serious the condition is. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to the following complications:

Temporomandibular Joints Disorder (TMD)

The joints located on either side of our heads — the ones that connect the jaws to the rest of the face — facilitate all of our jaw movements and are known as temporomandibular joints. Persistent bruxism places a lot of stress on these joints, which eventually results in temporomandibular joints disorder, a condition in which your jaws tighten and get rigid. This leads to jaw locking, facial pains, headaches, swelling, soreness, and various other issues.

Dental Injuries

The constant pressure on your teeth leads to various dental injuries. Over time, your enamel wears off, thereby revealing the underlying dentin layer which makes your teeth appear yellower and also increases your sensitivity. Your teeth also start chipping and cracking and develop other dental issues over time.

Insomnia

Nocturnal bruxism prevents you from sleeping comfortably and you keep waking up in the middle of the night. This leads to insomnia.

Treatment for Teeth Grinding/ Bruxism

You should go for all your regular dental checkups and dental cleaning appointments because dentists generally look for signs of bruxism during standard checkups. If you display signs of bruxism, the dentist will recommend coming in for dental checkups frequently so they can assess the progression of bruxism and the damage it causes.

Following that, the dentist will ask questions that will help them identify the root cause and extent of bruxism. They may ask you about your sleeping habits, anxiety issues, stress issues, and other such questions. This will be done over several sessions so the dentist can gradually discern the root cause of bruxism and teeth grinding.

Mouth Guard for Grinding

A mouthguard is one of the best dental appliances that minimize the damage caused by bruxism. While mouth guards and night guards don’t treat bruxism, they do protect your mouth from the harmful effects of bruxism. These are soft appliances that you have to wear on your mouth. As such, when you clench or grind your teeth, you won’t actually rub your teeth against each other — the soft appliance will protect them by keeping them separated. This will minimize the damage caused by teeth grinding.

Dental Correction or Physiological Changes

If you’ve sustained damages to your teeth such as chipped, fractured, or cracked teeth, the dentist will fix that using restorative dental procedures. They may use dental onlay, fillings, or other procedures to fix the damage. Following that, if the teeth grinding is occurring due to uneven or misaligned teeth, the dentist will alter the chewing surfaces of your teeth. This will treat bruxism.

Psychological Changes

If your bruxism is caused by psychological factors like aggression and stress, the dentist will refer you to a behavioral therapist or sleep specialist. They’ll use various methods to modify your bruxism-causing behaviors.

  • Stress Management: Through breathing exercises and other such tools, they’ll help you manage your stress.
  • Behavioral Changes: If you suffer from bruxism because of your jaw movements and posture, they’ll help you change your habits and posture.
  • Biofeedback: Certain devices and methods will help you better control your muscles and jaws to minimize bruxism.

Medications

Medications don’t help with the long-term treatment of bruxism, but they can help you relax temporarily. This helps minimize bruxism momentarily. However, this isn’t a treatment in itself and you shouldn’t rely on it.

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Bruxism/ Teeth Grinding Q&A

Yes, a nightguard is the best way to minimize the damage caused by bruxism. As mentioned earlier, bruxism can severely damage your enamel and tooth structures. With a mouthguard, you can protect your teeth from lasting damage.

Treating TMJ involves visiting a dentist or behavioral therapist who can help you change your bruxism-inducing activities. They can also help you with stress management and relaxation techniques to minimize teeth grinding and gradually treat TMJ as well.

The following are some of the most effective methods to either cure sleep bruxism or minimize the damage caused by teeth grinding:

  • Wearing night guards or mouthguards.
  • Controlling your jaw muscles with relaxation exercises.
  • Relieving stress and anxiety with the right techniques.

Schedule an Appointment for Bruxism Treatment

At Sun Ridge Smiles, we have some of the best dentists in the country who can examine the symptoms of bruxism and teeth grinding. Based on their evaluation, they’ll come up with a treatment plan specific to your needs and also provide a mouthguard to protect your teeth from bruxism. For more information, please schedule an appointment for bruxism treatment today.