Causes, Effects, and Solutions for Bruxism

Grinding and clenching teeth is a sign of bruxism

Finding Relief From Bruxism

Bruxism is a very common and often underdiagnosed disorder that affects more than 50% of adults. It can lead to worn down teeth, toothaches, increased risks of tooth decay and gum disease, and jaw pain

The good news is bruxism responds well to treatment and your dentist can help you get relief quickly. Best of all, if your teeth have become cracked or worn from bruxism, your dentist can also repair the damage and restore your smile.

Here’s what you need to know about bruxism and how it can be corrected.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a disorder characterized by grinding, clenching, and gnashing of the teeth while either awake or asleep.

Many people with bruxism don’t immediately realize they’re exhibiting this behavior as it tends to happen unconsciously (even if you are awake). Sleep bruxism tends to be more commonly seen than awake bruxism, but sometimes a person may experience both conditions.

Awake bruxism is generally categorized as either an oral or behavioral disorder, while sleep bruxism is categorized as a sleep-related disorder, especially when presenting as a symptom of sleep apnea.

Why does bruxism develop?

Bruxism can be triggered by a number of different factors, both physical and psychological. 

Awake bruxism is typically caused by stress, anxiety, anger, and similar emotional states in which you begin to physically experience tension. Sleep bruxism can also occur when a person experiences chronic stress and tension during the day, but usually the culprit is a sleep disorder triggering abnormal movement in the jaw and face.

Bruxism of both types are more likely to develop in people who:

  • Experience constant emotional stress (i.e. anxiety, anger) on a daily basis.
  • Have competitive or hyperactive personality characteristics.
  • Are on medication linked to bruxism behavior (i.e. antidepressants).
  • Consume large amounts of caffeine or alcohol.
  • Use tobacco products and other stimulants.
  • Have a family history of bruxism.
  • Currently have active mental and physical health conditions.

It’s also important to note that bruxism tends to be much more commonly seen in children, particularly sleep bruxism. 

If you’ve caught your child grinding their teeth or jaw clenching while asleep or awake, be sure to have this evaluated by a doctor or dentist. Although most children grow out of this habit by adulthood, taking a proactive approach to preventing dental damage is vital.

How do I know if I have bruxism?

You may have bruxism if:

  • You’ve caught yourself clenching your jaw tightly when stressed.
  • Your teeth have become worn, chipped, and appear flat where they meet.
  • You’re experiencing a general toothache feeling across multiple teeth.
  • Your jaw and temporomandibular joint feel sore or unable to move easily.
  • You experience frequent dull headaches, especially after waking up.
  • You’ve noticed bites or signs of chewing on the inside of your cheeks.

Bruxism can be very damaging to your teeth and can contribute toward development of a TMJ disorder. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms of bruxism, even if you don’t feel pain, it’s highly recommended you bring it up with your dentist during a check-up.

What can my dentist do to treat my bruxism?

It isn’t uncommon for someone with bruxism to be completely unaware of their condition until their dentist points out unusual wearing of the teeth. It’s also very possible for bruxism to develop and cause superficial damage in just a few months. This is a great example of why seeing your dentist every six months is so important.

If your dentist diagnoses you with bruxism, they will create a treatment plan to repair any dental damage that may have occurred and determine which preventive solution will stop any further damage from occurring.

If your teeth have become worn down, chipped, or broken from bruxism, your dentist will use restorative or cosmetic dentistry solutions to repair the damage. Dental crowns can save teeth from extraction and give them a beautiful new appearance. Porcelain bridges or dental implants can replace missing teeth in cases of severe bruxism leading to extraction. And if your smile is really suffering from extreme wear, porcelain veneers are the ultimate smile makeover option.

The Laurel Manor SleepCare specialist team provides preventive treatment for sleep bruxism as well as sleep apnea. We’ll help you protect your smile with an oral appliance, such as an occlusal guard or splint.

Are there other treatment options for bruxism?

In addition to preventive or restorative treatment with your dentists, there are also additional options for treatment that you can pursue. 

We strongly recommend discussing your symptoms with your GP, most especially if you are on medications linked to bruxism as a side effect, or if you have an active medical condition. Your GP can help troubleshoot whether either of these two factors may be causing your bruxism to find permanent relief.

Prioritizing your mental health is also very important. Stress and anxiety have a significant impact on bruxism, and even if they aren’t the only cause, they certainly exacerbate the issue. Take care of yourself and do what you can to relieve your stress on a regular basis. Seeking out professional help to get ideas on how to lead a more stress-free life is a wonderful way to start.

Protect your smile from bruxism at Laurel Manor Dental.

Whatever symptoms you are experiencing, you don’t have to suffer alone. The team at Laurel Manor Dental is experienced in treating TMJ issues and can help you achieve a pain-free jaw. Book a consultation today by calling our office in The Villages, FL, or requesting a visit online.

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