What is bruxism? How to avoid bruxism? We answer all your questions about ‘teeth grinding’ and give you some remedies to correct it.
The act of grinding your teeth, whether during the day or while sleeping, is called bruxism. This mandibular parafunction occurs when the upper teeth are clenched very tightly with the lower teeth, and in turn, they move from back to front and vice versa, most of the time unconsciously, thus wearing down the teeth.
Bruxism can cause, depending on the person, ear and jaw pain, problems in the temporomandibular joint, headache, anxiety, tension, tooth sensitivity to cold, heat and sweet foods, and, in more extreme cases, insomnia. Another major problem that bruxism can cause is that the teeth become sore or loose, as the bone that supports the tooth wears away causing joint problems.
Types of bruxism
The most common type of bruxism is related to sleep and occurs at night. Also, it is the most difficult to control. Some specialists distinguish up to five different types of bruxism :
- Clenching: when teeth are clenched while there is muscle contraction.
- From rubbing: when teeth are rubbed and muscles contract and relax causing tooth wear.
- Daytime: related to habits such as pressing the lips between the teeth or biting the nails.
- Nocturnal: it occurs at night and, the next day, the patient presents muscular fatigue.
- Day and night: chronic bruxism both day and night.
Causes of bruxism
Specialists differ on the causes of bruxism although everything points to stress and the person’s inability to relax. However, other causes are cited and that may be an inadequate alignment of the teeth, nutritional factors that the patient follows, poor posture when sleeping, bad sleep habits, the presence of respiratory disorders during sleep, etc.
Depending on the cause that causes it, bruxism is different in each case. Hence, the most appropriate diagnosis must be received through a specialist.
Symptoms of bruxism
Many people suffer from bruxism and they do not present any type of discomfort. To the point that they are only able to find out when someone tells them that they grind their teeth at night. In bruxism, the teeth put excessive pressure on the muscles, tissues, and structures that surround the jaw. It is very important to detect it in time and try to put a stop to it as soon as the first symptoms appear, otherwise if it is prolonged in time it can cause major problems in the temporomandibular joint.
The main symptoms of bruxism are associated with anxiety, stress, depression, earache and headache, muscle sensitivity and hot, cold and sweet things, eating disorders, pain and/or inflammation of the jaw, and insomnia.
Treatment of bruxism
Therapies to treat bruxism aim to reduce pain, prevent tooth wear, and prevent further permanent damage to the patient’s jaw. For this, dental protectors and splints are usually prescribed that the patient must wear while sleeping. This system helps precisely prevent damage to the teeth and problems that may arise in the temporomandibular joint.
The splint tries to protect the denture from the pressure exerted when we grind and grind the teeth. Generally, a rigid resin splint is used to help keep the jaw much more relaxed. However, these dental protectors and splints do not eliminate the problem, hence if they are discontinued, it is very likely that bruxism will reproduce.
Another measure that specialists usually take is to eliminate hard foods and sweets from the patient’s diet. Besides, it is highly recommended to perform relaxation exercises that help reduce stress. You can also apply hot cloths or ice to the area where pain occurs. Other options are massaging the affected area, sleeping the recommended hours, drinking plenty of water, or having an orthodontic to align the teeth.
In the latter case, and in those situations in which none of the above treatments has been effective, the specialist can determine to perform surgery on the patient.