Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw. It can take place when you are awake or asleep but the latter is the most common, impacting almost 80% of bruxers.
You may not be aware that you grind your teeth while you are asleep. The grinding sounds and noises may be first noticed by bed partner.
The major signs of Bruxism are:
- Teeth grinding – often observed by your sleep partner.
- Headaches – Especially in the morning
- Discomfort in Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- Neck pain and aching shoulders.
- Sensitive teeth and Tooth pain.
- Abnormal tooth wear and/or fracturing of teeth
Unfavourably, many of these symptoms such as migraines, earaches, and a stiff neck/jaw do not clearly indicate that grinding and clenching of teeth may be the cause – leaving bruxism one of the most under diagnosed conditions in the UK.
So what causes Bruxism?
The leading cause is stress and anxiety. Around 70% of the cases are justified by this. There are also connections with sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, medications such as antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs and lifestyle preferences such as drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs.
If you notice or have any of the above mentioned symptoms let your dentist know. They can help you diagnose if you have bruxism. This may entail looking for any wear and damage to your teeth, examining the muscles in and around your jaw and the function of the jaw joints, which are just in front of your ears.
How is Bruxism Treated?
If you grind your teeth at night, you can have a biteguard made to be worn while you sleep. This is just like mouthguard and guards your teeth and jaw muscles against the pressure of grinding and clenching.
If the root cause of your bruxism is stress and anxiety then treatments like yoga, relaxation techniques or counselling are often suggested.
Cutting down on alcohol and quitting recreational drugs and smoking is also advised.
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above and feel that bruxism may be the reason please book an appointment with your dentist.