Bruxism is the name given to teeth grinding. It isn’t necessarily obvious as it occurs more frequently when you are not fully aware of what you are doing. This is when you are asleep, concentrating hard on a specific task and when under stress.
It is linked to a variety of other factors, which include:
- the side effects of anti-depressants, such as paroxetine, sertraline and fluoxetine;
- snoring or another sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA);
- talking or mumbling when sleeping;
- behaving in a violent manner while asleep, like kicking or punching;
- being a victim of sleep paralysis when for a short time you are unable to speak or move;
- experiencing hallucinations while partly conscious;
- drinking alcohol;
- persistent smoking;
- using ecstasy or cocaine;
- drinking large amounts of tea or coffee every day.
There is no easy solution to stopping bruxism because you aren’t necessarily aware that you are doing it. You may discover you grind your teeth when you begin to experience unexplained pain in your face or frequent headaches. Other symptoms may become apparent, such as teeth wearing down, ear ache and if the bruxism is quite severe it may cause stiffness and pain in the temporomandibular joint which is the jaw joint and its surrounding muscles.
If bruxism is left untreated you could end up with temporomandibular disorder (TMD). If you are sharing your life with a partner s/he will be disturbed when sleeping by the grinding noise that is evident. However polite that person is once sleep deprivation is experienced it won’t be long before you find out that you are grinding your teeth.
What you should do if you suspect you have bruxism?
If the evidence is there, you should see your dentist as soon as you can. The dentist will examine your teeth and jaw area and will be able to tell if you grind them. Treatment for this affliction will be suggested by your dentist. If you leave it untreated you could end up with more teeth problems occurring such as a painful dental abscess. Teeth grinding may also affect your children, particularly after their baby teeth or adult teeth first appear. Fortunately, the habit usually comes to an end once the adult teeth have fully erupted.
There are several ways a dentist can help prevent bruxism. If the reason for it is stress a visit to your GP may be of some help as he or she will have more knowledge of advising you on how to control your stress levels.
How can your dentist help solve bruxism?
There are two main treatment options available for alleviating bruxism:
- using a custom-fitted mouth guard or splint as this helps to reduce the impact of teeth grinding such as noise, pain and further tooth wear;
- muscle relaxation exercises.
If you ignore the symptoms your relationship may suffer and you may need more dental treatment at a later date when more damage has been done. It’s best to arrange an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible so that the right treatment options can be discussed.