Bruxism affects people across the world and both adults and children in Australia suffer from this condition daily. Bruxism is the term that’s used to describe the involuntary clenching or grinding of a patient’s teeth. It can occur in the day and at night. This article will provide you with tips on coping with bruxism.
What is Bruxism or Teeth Grinding?
Bruxism can be described as forceful teeth grinding. It can occur in people of all ages but mainly affects children and young adults. Sleep bruxism is the term that is used to describe bruxism that takes place at night. It leaves people who are affected with pain in their jaw, cheekbones and other parts of their skull.
Effects of Bruxism
While they’re asleep, people who are affected by bruxism can apply a substantial amount of pressure to their teeth. It’s not uncommon for up to 250 pounds of force to be applied to the teeth on a nightly basis. This results in excessive wear on the teeth.
Bruxism can also cause pain in the jaw because of the pressure that’s being applied. The whole neck can be affected and in the long-term patients may develop problems with the temporomandibular joint. Adults and children may also experience headaches which make it difficult for them to function during the day.
What Can Be Done to Help Patients with Bruxism?
There’s no permanent cure for bruxism. However, there are Bruxism treatment methods that can decrease the frequency of teeth grinding and reduce wear on the teeth.
If you frequently wake up with pain in your teeth or your jaw you should see your doctor. You may not even be aware that you’re grinding your teeth sometimes. Younger children may not make the connection between headaches or joint pain and teeth grinding or clenching that occurs during the day or night. Parents will have to be aware of the signs, such as children complaining of pain in the jaw or having discomfort while they’re attempting to eat.
It’s important to talk with a doctor about sleep bruxism since early treatment can help to alleviate some of the long-term effects. It can prevent further damage to your teeth and improve the quality of your sleep. This can also cause an improvement in your mood since poor quality sleep can make you irritable or cause difficulties with your concentration during the day.
What Causes Bruxism?
Bruxism is usually due to stress or anxiety. When people are under stress they tend to react in certain ways:
Shoulders and Head Muscles May Tighten
- For example, the muscles in their shoulders and head may tighten.
- Some people may start to experience back pain because they involuntarily tighten the muscles in their back.
Teeth Clenching or Grinding
- Some people clench or grind their teeth during the day and night.
It may be surprising to realize that children can be affected by stress to the point where they clinch and grind their teeth during the day or at night. However, children do experience stressful circumstances in their life and if they’re not able to work through it, they may tend to develop conditions like this.
During times when children and adults aren’t able to work out their stress and tension through physical activity, bruxism tends to increase. For example, if people are forced to be socially isolated and cannot participate in activities such as team sports which would help them to manage anxiety or stress, they may grind their teeth more often.
The incidence of bruxism in society has been observed to rise during times when social isolation is forced. For example, when curfews and other restrictions are in place to prevent the spread of diseases, the number of people who suffer from bruxism increases.
Dentists are usually among the first to notice when a problem in society is hurting children and adults. They will see an increase in the number of cases of cracked teeth, damage to crowns and other teeth damage among their patients.
Other Conditions That Can Occur Along With Bruxism
Certain conditions may occur along with bruxism and your doctor or dentist will be able to identify when this may be happening. Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the common conditions that may be seen in patients with bruxism.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also be seen in patients with bruxism. Conditions that accompany bruxism can harm your health and will also require further dental treatment.
Are People With Bruxism Always Aware of it?
People with bruxism may not always be aware that they have the condition. Some may not catch themselves grinding their teeth while they’re asleep or may only wake up with a headache and wonder why. Others may catch themselves waking up from sleep as they’re grinding their teeth and maybe puzzled by what is happening.
Some people only become aware of the condition when they realize that they’re grinding their teeth during the day. This may be accompanied by other signs of tension during the day, such as clenched shoulders or muscle clenching in other parts of their body.
Bruxism Dental Treatment
Treatment for bruxism aims to reduce pain and protect your teeth. Your doctor or dentist will develop a treatment regimen that helps to reduce strain on the muscles in your neck and jaw while preventing damage to your teeth.
They may also recommend changes that you can make at home, such as avoiding hard foods and some sticky foods that can damage your teeth. They may recommend that you adjust your sleeping position to alleviate pressure on your head and neck. A special pillow can be used to provide support so that your spine is correctly aligned during sleep.
A cold or hot compress can also be used to help with pain in the muscles of your jaw, neck and shoulders. You can also use special exercises and massage, which should be done for a few minutes several times each day. This helps to relieve tension and tightness in the muscles in your jaw, thereby preventing clenching and grinding.