Bruxism in dental terms is clenching or grinding of teeth. It is considered a disorder because it can damage the teeth, gums, and jaw. Bruxism can occur at any age, but it’s more common in children and adults under stress. If left untreated, it can lead to serious dental problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease. It can also cause headaches and jaw pain.
Types of Bruxism:
There are two types of bruxism:
1. Awake Bruxism:
This is when you clench or grind your teeth during the day. It may happen when you’re stressed or anxious.
2. Sleep Bruxism:
This is when you clench or grind your teeth at night. It may be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.
What causes Bruxism?
The exact cause of bruxism is unknown. It may be due to a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors.
Physical factors include:
- Misaligned teeth: This can put extra stress on the teeth, leading to clenching or grinding.
- Poor dental occlusion: This means that the teeth don’t fit together correctly when you bite down.
- Abnormal biting surfaces: If the biting surfaces of the teeth are not smooth, they can trigger bruxism.
- Jaw muscle abnormalities: This can cause the muscles to contract more than usual, leading to clenching or grinding.
Psychological factors include:
- Stress: This is the most common psychological factor that leads to bruxism.
- Anxiety: People who are anxious may clench or grind their teeth as a way to cope with their anxiety.
- Anger: Some people may clench or grind their teeth when they’re angry.
- Depression: People who are depressed may clench or grind their teeth as a way to release their feelings of sadness or frustration.
Genetic factors may also play a role in bruxism. Bruxism runs in families, so it’s possible that it may be passed down from generation to generation.
What are the symptoms of Bruxism?
The most common symptom of bruxism is teeth grinding or clenching. This can happen during the day or at night. You may not even realize you’re doing it.
Other symptoms of bruxism include:
- Sensitive teeth
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Tiredness in the face
- Stiffness in the jaw muscles
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Clicking or popping sound when moving the jaw
If you have any of these symptoms, see your dentist or doctor. They can help you figure out if bruxism is the cause.
How is Bruxism diagnosed?
Your dentist or doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. They’ll also do a physical exam of your mouth and teeth. In some cases, they may order X-rays or other imaging tests to rule out other conditions.
How is Bruxism treated?
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for bruxism. The best approach depends on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause.
In some cases, no treatment is necessary. If bruxism doesn’t cause any pain or damage to the teeth, you may not need any treatment.
If bruxism does cause pain or damage, your dentist or doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
1. Mouth guards or splints: These devices are worn at night to protect the teeth from grinding or clenching.
2. Botox injections: These can help relax the jaw muscles and relieve pain.
3. Muscle relaxants: These can be used to relax the jaw muscles and relieve pain.
4. Stress management: This can help reduce stress and anxiety, which may lead to bruxism.
5. Biofeedback: This can help you learn to control your jaw muscles and reduce teeth grinding or clenching.
6. Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to correct a jaw muscle abnormality or misaligned teeth.
If bruxism is due to an underlying condition, such as sleep apnea, treating the condition may help reduce or eliminate bruxism.