However Bruxism isn’t just about grinding your teeth, it can also be used to describe when a person clenches his jaw – both things are in most cases, subconscious and the majority of it happens whilst you sleep.
Grinding doesn’t always cause immediate problems, however it occurs regularly and for an extended time, it could cause headaches, ear ache, a sore face, and potentially cause damage to your teeth which could also result in some even falling out.
There are a number of factors that could cause a person to experience bruxism, these include:
Stress – It is believed that about 70% of cases of bruxism are related to stress and anxiety.
Obstructive Sleep apnoea – or OSA as it is sometimes referred, has strong links to bruxism and is a result of your breathing being interrupted during sleep.
Caffeine – it won’t just affect you when trying to sleep, drinking more than six cups of coffee or tea during the day can be linked to an increased risk of bruxism.
Alcohol – regularly drinking alcohol can also result in bruxism as it causes muscles to relax in your mouth and palate.
Drugs – recreational drugs like Ecstasy and cocaine can lead to bruxism, however some prescription medication can also have the same side effects.
Symptoms of bruxism
Unless you have a partner waking you up about the sound your clenching and grinding is making, you may be unaware that you are experiencing any issues.
One of the clearest signs that you may be suffering from the problem is waking up with an aching jaw, or if you have any pain in or around your mouth.
Other obvious symptoms include worn, loose or sensitive teeth, gum inflammation, and facial muscle discomfort.
It can also lead to pain across other areas of your body, such as pain in the shoulder and neck and can also cause earache.
In severe cases bruxism can result in temporomandibular disorders, which affects the joints in front of your ears and cause problems when opening and closing your mouth which can also lead to tooth loss.
There are a number of available treatments for bruxism; however the only ones that have shown to be effective are the use of a night mouth guard and mandibular advancement devices, or using behavioural therapies.
Occlusal guards and mandibular advancement devices (MADS) – plastic dental night guards and MADS are an easy and effective method to protect your teeth from further damage and premature wear; they also reduce the noise of teeth grinding – a bonus for anyone sleeping in close proximity.
Behavioural therapies – if your bruxism is a result of stress or anxiety, a more cognitive behavioural therapy approach may be better – these aim to tackle the way you think and act. The majority of the time these will be lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking, drinking less alcohol or caffeine and using relaxation techniques. In other cases hypnosis may be used to try tackle the problem.
It’s important, if you think you are suffering from bruxism, to visit your dentist as they will be able to spot any signs that you may be suffering and can also help to prevent any lasting damage if spotted in time. They will be able to help you out with any problems or concerns you may have regarding bruxism or any other dental problems.
About the author:
Gareth writes on a number of health and wellbeing topics on behalf of dental insurance provider AXA PPP healthcare (site). His name interests are dental health as well as keeping fit and healthy.