Bruxism is a condition that can happen to adults and children. According to research, bruxism can occur in children as young as four-years-old. However, bruxism is more prevalent in adults.
But what exactly is bruxism, and is there anything you can do about it? We are guiding you through the web’s most frequently asked questions about bruxism in this guide. So, keep reading to find out!
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a medical condition that results from habitually clenching or grinding teeth at night. People often have bruxism without knowing it. That is because bruxism typically occurs during sleep, though not always.
Experts distinguish between two types of bruxism based on when the tooth grinding occurs. People with awake bruxism grind their teeth during the day. Sleep bruxism predominately occurs at night.
The most common symptom of bruxism is grinding or clenching your teeth. Other signs that you could have bruxism include unexplained headaches, locked or tight jaw muscles, face pain, and disrupted sleep.
Is Bruxism Medical or Dental?
Bruxism is a medical condition, but it can lead to dental issues. That is why dental professionals typically treat this condition and its symptoms. However, doctors consider bruxism a sleep-related movement disorder.
Other sleep-related movement disorders include:
- Periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS)
- Sleep-related leg cramps
- Propriospinal myoclonus at sleep onset (PSM)
- Excessive fragmentary myoclonus (EFM)
- Hypnic jerks
- REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD)
- Disorders of arousal (DOA)
- Rhythmic movement disorder (RMD)
- Hypnogogic foot tremor (HFT)
- Alternating leg muscle activation (ALMA)
- Benign neonatal sleep myoclonus
- Sleep-related hypermotor epilepsy (SHE)
Oral health complications commonly occur due to bruxism. These complications include damaging tooth enamel and jawbone joints. Bruxism can ultimately lead to tooth loss, tooth pain, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues.
Is Bruxism a Neurological Disorder?
Doctors categorize bruxism as a neuromuscular disorder. It comes about due to issues with the function of the nerves that connect to facial muscles. Three major muscle groups are involved in the development of bruxism:
- The temporalis muscle
- The masseter muscle
- The lateral pterygoid muscles
The former two muscles work together to help open and close the jaw. Meanwhile, the lateral pterygoid muscles help the jaw move from side to side.
We know that bruxism is neurological (i.e., brain-based) in nature because it shows up as a symptom of other brain-based disorders.
These disorders include neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Parkinson’s and dementia), epilepsy, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
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What Is the Main Cause of Bruxism?
There is no single cause of bruxism, though stress is often to blame. People who grind their teeth while awake, in particular, are more likely to report experiencing significant emotional stress.
People diagnosed with nighttime disorders like sleep apnea also have a higher chance of developing bruxism. In one study, over 50% of the participants had comorbid bruxism and breathing problems during sleep.
Other potential causes of bruxism are medications and certain lifestyle choices. For example, people who use tobacco products or drink caffeinated beverages are at a higher risk for bruxism.
Which Drugs May Lead to Bruxism?
Bruxism can be a side effect of certain medications, including antipsychotics and certain antidepressant treatments. The following selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have bruxism as a side effect:
- Fluoxetine (brand name Prozac)
- Venlafaxine (brand name Effexor)
- Sertraline (brand name Zoloft)
Researchers believe that these drugs cause bruxism because of their interaction with a hormone called dopamine. This interaction leads to increased muscle contractions, such as in the muscles of the jaw and face.
Can Dentists Tell If You Have Bruxism?
Getting a dental exam is the best way to know if you have bruxism. Remember that though bruxism is a medical condition, dental professionals typically provide a diagnosis. Your dentist can also recommend treatments to help.
During the exam, your dentist will look for tell-tale signs of this disorder. Excessive tooth wear or damage for your age is often one of the first and most obvious signs of bruxism.
Is There a Cure for Bruxism?
Since scientists don’t fully understand the causes of bruxism, they have yet to find a cure. Some children outgrow bruxism naturally, but others have it for life. However, there are treatments that can help reduce your symptoms.
For example, muscle relaxants can help reduce tense facial muscles. If you take antipsychotics or antidepressants, your provider may recommend a switch to reduce teeth-grinding side effects.
Yet, the best treatments for bruxism are drug-free. We will talk about the appliances and lifestyle changes to treat bruxism naturally at home next.
How Can I Fix Bruxism Naturally?
You can reduce your bruxism symptoms by making a few lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes should address your risk factors for bruxism.
For example, consider reducing your caffeine and/or tobacco use. Caffeine, in particular, can exacerbate bruxism symptoms. Limit caffeinated beverages throughout the day and avoid them altogether after 5 p.m.
Stress is another big risk factor for bruxism. Try activities like meditation and yoga to relieve stress.
Does Melatonin Help With Bruxism?
Another way to reduce stress is to get a better night’s sleep. Melatonin supplements are a natural remedy for sleep disturbances.
What Is the Best Sleep Position for Bruxism?
The best sleep position for bruxism is on your back. Sleeping on your back will reduce pressure on the jaw, allowing your facial muscles to relax.
Does a Night Guard Stop Bruxism?
A mouthguard won’t stop you from grinding your teeth at night. Yet, many dentists recommend night guards to protect your teeth.
What happens If Bruxism Is Left Untreated?
We’ve already talked about some of the consequences of not treating bruxism. These include developing TMJ, tooth pain, and even losing your teeth. Leaving bruxism untreated can also change the way your face profile looks.
Treating these conditions can cost thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in dental and medical bills.
Are Mouthguards the Bruxism Solution You Need?
Bruxism is a medical condition characterized by teeth grinding while awake or asleep. When left untreated, bruxism can significantly harm your teeth. A mouthguard is not a bruxism treatment, but it will protect your dental health.
Are you searching for a mouthguard for bruxism? At Sentinel Mouthguards, we guarantee you’ll love our products or get your money back. Browse our nighttime mouthguards and start protecting your teeth today!