Bruxism is the clenching or oppression of the teeth, which often occurs while a person is sleeping or is unaware of this act. It usually happens when people expose themself to high levels of stress and anxiety.
Even though the person may not realize it at first because it sometimes does not show any symptoms, the most common hints that you are bruxing are: facial pain, headaches, earaches, interrupted sleep, toughness, and soreness in the jaw joint, and broken teeth.
When the bruxing movement occurs, the force applied by the teeth is generally stronger than during regular chewing. This involuntary mandibular activity may cause flatten or worn-out teeth, fissures at the gum line, cracked teeth, loosening of the teeth and other damages to the jaw bone or jaw joints.
Identifying the Symptoms of Bruxism
The symptoms of bruxism usually disappear (if any) by the time you stop doing it, which generally happens when you avoid stress or find a relaxing way to deal with your anxiety. But, there might be already some damage done to your mandibula, so you may want to check out if it is a severe case and if you need treatment.
Treatment for teeth grinding – When to ask for help
When you have bruxism, some symptoms may be quite alarming. You should see your dentist immediately if you have worn, sore or damaged teeth, as well as any type of pain in the jaw, face, and ear.
Sometimes, when you are affected by bruxism, your partner may experience some sounds coming from your mouth while you sleep, which is a sign that your teeth are grinding.
In case you need treatment for bruxism, because you are still in pain after quitting grinding your teeth or compromised appearance and integrity of a tooth, it is better to go to a specialist or dentist that can treat potential infections or a dental abscess.
If your bruxism has occurred because of your anxiety or stress levels, the specialist may even tell you some ways to deal with these sensitive situations.
As for the physical treatment, the dentist may suggest the use of a mouth guard, also known as mouth splint, to diminish compressing the teeth. Avoiding this compression alleviates the pain and protects your teeth from any further or potential injury.
Your dentist may even recommend you some therapies to relax your facial muscles, particular hygiene before sleep, or also cognitive behavioral therapy, in case you need it.
Other treatments include muscle-relaxation exercises and sleep hygiene.
Causes of Bruxism
As bruxism is often related to anxiety, stress, and even sleep problems, it is not odd to see relaxation therapy as a way to treat bruxism, at all. Most of the people do not even realize when they grind their teeth since it is an involuntary act of the mandibula when sleeping or performing specific tasks.
Some medication can also produce grinding as a side effect, and due to the consumption of a particular type of antidepressants, the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). Some of these medications are paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline.
Besides, grinding teeth is usually more often in people who snore, mumble, move arms or legs, have sleep paralysis, hallucinations, or talk while asleep / half conscious. Many people with bruxism even have sleep disorders, such as OSA, or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.
Even if you do not find it essential, lifestyle is a crucial factor that might intercede in the development of bruxism, as it happens with alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs as habits. Even drinking coffee and tea are among the practices you should avoid if you believe you have or are diagnosed with bruxism.
Do not forget to talk to your dentist or specialist in this condition about what your bruxism symptoms are and your usual habits, so that they can identify the potential causes and find the best treatment for your specific case.