Bruxism/Teeth Grinding

in Teeth

Bruxism is simple medical term for the habit of teeth grinding.  
Common terms used for Bruxism are grinding, gnashing, grating or clenching of teeth.
Occasional Teeth grinding cannot be obvious or of any harm, but regular clenching of teeth can lead to damage to teeth or other oral health complications.

Though bruxism is a common parafunctional habit for millions of adults and children at some time of their lives.
It is  believed that Bruxism can be a response to increased psychological stress.
Clenching of teeth is commonly done during sleep.
Abnormal bite, missing teeth or crooked teeth can also cause bruxism.

Signs & Symptoms:

Bruxism involves any type of forceful contact between the teeth; it may be silent and clenching or loud grating. Most of us may not be aware of this as it might be happening at night during sleep hours. Even though Bruxism can occur during day times.
Bruxism can happen in certain sleep disorders. Alcohol consumption or certain medications like antidepressant can worsen bruxism. Malocclusion (irregular teeth) is one of important causative factor for bruxism and leads to severity of related symptoms of bruxism.

Symptoms of bruxism can vary from mildly irritating to medically dangerous depending on the severity of condition:
•  Anxiety, stress, and tension
•  Earache (due in part because the structures of the temporomandibular joint are very close to the ear canal, and because you can feel pain in a different location than its source; this is called referred pain)
•  Eating disorders
•  making sounds of clenching or grating teeth while sleeping, often noticed by a sleeping partner
•  gum damage
•  tooth sensitivity
•  Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles
•  A dull morning headache
•  Jaw muscles that are tight or painful – This can make it uncomfortable, even painful, to open your mouth wide, especially in the morning
•  Long-lasting pain in the face
•  Damaged teeth, broken dental fillings and injured gums
•  Painful jaw joint
•  Swelling (occasionally) on the side of your lower jaw caused by clenching. Chronic clenching exercises the jaw muscles. Like lifting weights, this makes the muscles grow larger. Once you stop clenching, the muscles will shrink and the swelling will go away.
On experiencing any of the bruxism signs one should approach dentist.
Dentist will ask general dental health questionnaire and inquire about the medication and habits. This will help in finding the cause of clenching is stress or is related to dental.
Dentist will perform careful oral examination concentrating on jaw muscles in and around the jaw, tenderness in muscles and  evidences of teeth grinding.
Any missing teeth or fractured teeth or poor tooth alignment will confirm Bruxism.
Expected Duration:
Of all children who brux between the ages of 3 and 10, more than half will stop on their own by age 13.
In teenagers and adults, how long bruxism lasts depends on its cause. For example, bruxism can last for many years if it is related to stress that doesn't go away.
However, if bruxism is being caused by a dental problem, it should stop when the teeth are repaired and realigned. Often this occurs within a few dental visits.

Stress related bruxism :  
Professional counseling helps
Relaxation therapies
Avoid stimulants such as tobacco and caffeine.
Tooth damage related bruxism
Dental appliance - night bite plate or a bite splint (to be used during sleep hours)

Unattended Bruxism can lead to various complications like
•  Jaw dysfunction, also called temporomandibular disorders (TMD)
•  Headaches when you wake up in the morning
•  Unexplained facial pain
•  Changes in facial muscles

Nightly grinding can awaken roommates and sleeping partners.


Stress – for stress related Bruxism dentist or physicisn may recommend-
Professional counseling
biofeedback exercises
relaxation therapy
Dentist may prescribe muscle relxant for few days to ease the jaw muscles.
Dentist will prepare adental appliance called mouth guard or bite plate to reduce grinding of teeth.
In advanced cases dentist may refer to oral surgeon.

Dental problems — bruxism due to tooth problems, dentist probably will correct tooth alignment.
In severe cases, your dentist may need to use onlays or crowns to entirely reshape the biting surfaces of your teeth. The dentist also may make a mouth guard or bite splint that fits your mouth and teeth. This will help prevent further damage to the teeth. In some cases, it may help your teeth and muscles to realign.
Mouth gaurds: - A dental appliance can be provided by dentist to protect teeth from grinding during sleep.

Additional tips on avoiding teeth grinding includes:

•  Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.

•  Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.

•  Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.

•  Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.

•  Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

FAQ ‘s { Frequently Asked Questions} :

Q: Does bruxism need a professional advice and treatment?

A:  Mild symptoms of bruxism get relieved by simple jaw exercises.
But even if the headaches, earaches, facial or jaw pain persists, one must take an advice from a dentist.  With due course of time  bruxism causes  wearing of  tooth enamel, which is susceptible to chipped teeth, cracks and breaks — which can be a costly affair to repair.
One trip to the dentist can actually save money and time both.

Q: What can be the dental treatments for bruxism?

A: The Bruxism can be treated by diagnosing and managing its cause. Few of dental treatments are
?  Customed Mouth Guards
?  Correction of misaligned Teeth
?  Oral Surgery ( In Severe cases of Bruxism)

Q: Does bruxism affect only adults?

A: No.
Adult women account for the majority of bruxism sufferers.
Children are also prone to daytime teeth grinding, jaw clenching  and particularly sleep bruxism. Children may also develop bruxism as a response to a cold or other infection and are more likely to develop it when their parents are affected.
?  If you notice your child grinding teeth while sleeping, schedule a dental visit! Early bruxism treatment can help ensure that your little one doesn't continue to suffer.

Q Is teeth Grinding Harmful?

A: Chronic Teeth Grinding can result in fracture, loosening or loss of teeth. The wearing of teeth results in root stumps.
Possible corrections in this case are bridges, crowns root canals implants partial dentures and even complete dentures.
Severe grinding damage teeth and results in tooth loss; it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.

Q: How to Stop Grinding of Teeth?

A: Visit to a dentist is actually a solution to this.  Dentist can diagnose the root cause
Dentist can prepare and provide with a mouth guard to protect teeth from grinding during sleep.
If strees is the cause for grinding of teeth then
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.


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This article was published on 2011/12/19