08 Sep Everything You Must Know About Bruxism
What is Bruxism?
We all clench our teeth from time to time, for example, when we get angry or nervous, but if we do it regularly, then we are talking about bruxism.
Bruxism is the medical term that refers to the subconscious habit of teeth clenching or grinding.
Bruxism is a pretty usual problem. A large percentage of the population suffers from bruxism: it affects men as well as women, and adults as well as kids.
Sometimes bruxism resolves by itself, but when it persist, it is necessary to take some measures in order to avoid serious consequences.
Although bruxism exact causes are unknown, the research shows that bruxism doesn’t happen in an isolated way, but it is always linked to other health problems. Some of the factors to which bruxism is related are as follows:
- Sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnea (stop breathing for brief periods during sleep). Some research shows that bruxism is also related to sleepwalking.
- Psychological problems, such as stress or anxiety.
- Life style. It has been established that bruxism may be intensified by some factors, such as excessive alcohol consumption, recreational drugs and other stimulants, such as caffeine or tobacco.
- Medications. Bruxism may appear as a side effect of some medications, such as antidepressants.
There are several types of bruxism. In this post we are going to explain three different categories:
In which part of the day do you experience it?
- Daytime Bruxism: Daytime bruxism: is usually a more or less conscious reaction experienced while doing activities that require a high level of concentration. It is a fixation, such as nails or lips biting.
- Sleep Bruxism: Sleep bruxism is absolutely involuntary and happens during sleep. In this post we refer mainly to sleep bruxism.
What is the cause of bruxism?
- Specific: Specific bruxism appears in a natural way. In this case there is no external agent that causes it.
- Non-Specific Bruxism: Non-Specific bruxism is caused by a heath problem, either physical or psychological, such as depression. It can also happen due to medicaments or recreational drugs intake.
How does bruxism affect the tooth?
- Eccentric: Eccentric bruxism wears down evenly the whole biting surface of the tooth, that is to say, it makes the tooth have an even and flat surface.
- Centric: Centric bruxism causes inverted tooth cusps, that is to say, it sinks the part of the tooth that should stand out. Centric bruxism also wears down the neck of the tooth, which is the part that joins the crown with the root.
Symptoms and Consequences
Most common symptoms of bruxism are jaw pain and headache, which are due to muscles overuse. Other typical symptoms are tooth sensitivity, insomnia and earache.
If bruxism isn’t treated, the consequences may become very serious over time. In fact, sometimes bruxism gets so intense that it can cause tooth micro fractures or cracks, gum recession, tooth wear or even tooth lost. Reconstructing damaged teeth could be quite expensive, therefore it is better to treat bruxism as soon as possible in order to avoid that its consequences reach this point.
Given that we normally clench or teeth at night, sometimes we don’t realize that we suffer from bruxism. As mentioned above, some symptoms may be headache or jaw pain. If you notice any of these symptoms and you think that you may have bruxism, please inform your dentist.
However, even if you don’t realize that you clench your teeth in your sleep, your dentist will notice when you get your regular check up done, for there are some signs that are clear indicators of bruxism, such as tooth wear, enamel lost and the state of your gums and jaw.
There is no specific solution for bruxism, but treatments that help control it and avoid further tooth damage.
If you clench your teeth because you are stressed, you should talk to your doctor so that she or he helps you reduce your stress.
If you clench your teeth because you have a sleep disorder, you should solve your sleep disorder first. Once you do that, the bruxism will very likely go away as well.
Reducing alcohol and stimulants consumption is another way of reducing bruxism.
The most common and simple treatment for bruxism is a night guard. Night guards are custom made and they normally last for many years. They are made out of a special plastic material that adjusts perfectly to your upper and lower teeth.
The night guard is in between you upper and lower teeth, what makes it impossible for you to clench or grind your teeth. Therefore you should wear the night guard at night, so that you don’t clench your teeth while sleeping.
However, if you have waited a long time to treat your bruxism, besides wearing a night guard, you will have to get all other kinds of tooth damages repaired, as we already mentioned before.
Bruxism in Children
Some kids can also suffer from bruxism, although this condition is much more common in adults. Bruxism is especially common in children under 10 years old. Nevertheless, when these kids grow up, they usually stop clenching their teeth. However, it is important to discuss this with your dentist, so that she or he can decide what to do about it, for a low percentage of children will continue clenching and grinding their teeth when they grow up.