What is bruxism?
Many people are not familiar with the word bruxism but have commonly seen the behaviors caused by this condition. Bruxism is a teeth grinding disorder which causes you to clench your teeth together, grind or gnash them involuntarily. People suffering from bruxism occasionally find themselves unconsciously clenching their teeth together either during the day or at night.
Regardless of whether you are familiar with this condition or not it is very important for you to know the effects of bruxism and how it can influence your general health. Bruxism is a very common condition today and studies show that approximately one in three people suffer from this condition. This disorder is usually as a result of a complication caused by another condition or state of being. Below are the full details about this disorder and what you can do to stop it.
Why Bruxism Happens.
There is no clear reason why this teeth grinding disorder occurs but studies suggest that there are various factors that are related to its occurrence. These factors include;
- Sleep disorders
Some limited research has shown that people who experience sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or even snore while sleeping are more prone to grind their teeth while sleeping. This is because these two factors cause a disruption to breathing while a person is asleep. However, recent studies show a weak association between sleep apnea and teeth grinding. It has also been suggested that people who experience sleep paralysis, hallucinations, behave aggressively while asleep or even talk in their sleep are more likely to experience bruxism.
- Anxiety and stress
The second factor that can cause bruxism to occur is stress and anxiety. These two factors are psychological and mental problems that affect victims who suffer from teeth grinding subconsciously when they are asleep. Studies show that excessive amount of work related stress can affect your sleep resulting to occurrence of sleep bruxism. Anxiety and stress also cause teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
- Way of life
This teeth grinding disorder may as well occur due to specific life factors which include, excessive alcohol consumption, use of recreational drugs i.e. cocaine and ecstasy, taking six or more cups of caffeinated drinks a day such as coffee or tea and smoking.
Another reason why bruxism occurs is due to the side effects caused by taking certain medication including antipsychotics and anti depressants. Even though there is a high risk of developing this kind of grinding disorder if you are on these drugs, you ought to know that most people who take these medications rarely experience symptoms of bruxism.
What can one do to stop it?
Once a person suffering from bruxism identifies the condition, the first thing that he or she is usually eager to know is how to stop the teeth grinding condition. There is no specific solution of how to stop teeth grinding but there are several medical options and treatments that can help control the condition and prevent more damage to the teeth.
If you realize that stress is the cause of your teeth grinding disorder, consult your doctor about options to reduce your stress but if a sleeping disorder is what has caused bruxism then you need to treat that disorder so as to eliminate the grinding habit.
This is the most common and widely used resolution of bruxism. Mouth guards are devices worn at night to protect the teeth against grinding during sleep. The whole idea of using night guards is to prevent tooth damage since the devices have the ability to withstand the impact caused by grinding. This is because the patient will still continue to grind their teeth even with the mouth guard on.
- Exercising the jaw.
Another way of controlling bruxism is by engaging in daily jaw exercises. You can consult either a chiropractor or your dentist to guide you on the type of exercises that you can carry out but meanwhile you can start by using warm water and a wet wash cloth on the jaw to help you relax and strengthen it. You can also relax the jaw muscle at night by holding a warm piece of cloth against your cheek just before your ear lobe.
- Train yourself to stop clenching or grinding your teeth.
You can also control this teeth grinding disorder by training yourself not to clench or grind your teeth especially if you notice that you clench or grind during the day. Do this by putting the tip of your tongue in between your teeth as this practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
Studies have shown that excessive intake of alcohol tends to makes teeth grinding more intensified. For this reason, anyone who has bruxism should avoid excessive alcohol intake so as to stop teeth grinding.
- Keep off chewing on pens and pencils.
Patients of bruxism should not chew on pencils, pens, gum or even anything that is not food. This is because doing this causes your jaw muscles to get used to clenching and this makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
What Does Bruxism Have to Do With TMD?
Bruxism and TMD disorder are two different issues but they can be related to each other. As we had mentioned earlier, bruxism is a teeth grinding disorder but on the other hand, TMD disorder occurs because of the misalignment of the joint that joins the lower jaw to the skull. Bruxism can be categorized as a TMD disorder also known as TMJ but the TMD disorder can cause bruxism. There is a high than average chance that a person suffering from bruxism also has the TMD disorder. Check out this recent article that explores TMD treatment by receiving botox injections.
Non-Specific Bruxism Vs Specific Bruxism.
This teeth grinding disorder is classified into two categories i.e. specific and non-specific bruxism. Specific bruxism is the type of bruxism that occurs naturally i.e. without any prior medical condition whereas non specific bruxism is the teeth grinding disorder that occurs as a result of a psychiatric or medical conditions. Non specific bruxism can also be linked with various medications such as recreational drugs and anti depressions.
Even though there is no specific cure for bruxism, it is important to control the effects of the teeth grinding disorder so as to prevent any further damages. Symptoms of bruxism include a painful jaw, high teeth sensitivity, muscle tenderness, insomnia, headache, eating disorder, ear ache, depression, anxiety and stress. Other preventive measures that may help relieve pain include drinking plenty of water, getting enough rest, massaging the muscles of the neck, shoulders and face and also learning physical therapy exercises that can help restore muscle and joints on each side of the head.