Clenching or grinding of teeth known as Bruxism is a form of parasomnia, clinically defined as “Continued and rhythmic contraction of masticatory muscles combined with tooth contact”. In simpler terms if you have this condition you grind, gnash or clench your teeth unconsciously when you’re awake or during sleep. Bruxism is seen mostly during night time (sleep bruxism). In rare cases Bruxism occurs during day (awake bruxism) as well as night, this sort of bruxism is known as Bruxomania.
Mild bruxism is common and may not require treatment. However, in people where bruxism is frequent and severe enough, it can to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.
This is even more alarming because you may have sleep bruxism and be completely unaware of it until some complications develop especially in children. That is why it is important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism, the causes and to seek regular dental care.
INCIDENCES OF BRUXISM:
According to statistics, 50 to 85% of population has experienced bruxism at some part of their life. Bruxism is a family trait – meaning among 20 to 45% people having bruxism, some other members in the family are also suffering from it.
Bruxism is very common in children, seen in nearly 17 to 30% of them,
* 12 to 18% of teenagers,
* 8% of middles aged people,
* 3-6% of old people.
Unfortunately, very few people even realize that they are clenching their teeth at night, in most cases Bruxism is noticed by their spouses or other family members.
SYMPTOMS OF BRUXISM:
1) A Lot of people complain of a mild headache and even earache especially in the morning.
2) Having a random facial pain especially in the jaw.
3) Teeth get severely worn out (especially the molars).
4) Receding gums in people who otherwise might not show any symptoms of gum disease (Gingivitis).
5) Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ).
CAUSES OF BRUXISM:
1) Emotional attributes – anger, stress, anxiety, frustration, sadness and confusion.
2) Age related phenomenon – bruxism is seen more in younger people and declines with age.
3) People having aggressive personality.
4) People having asymmetric teeth.
5) Some medications like anti-psychotics and anti-depressants may also cause bruxism. Most common ones are Serta (Zoloft) and Prozac (Flouxetine).
6) Health problems like Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.
Bruxism is highly treatable once the underlying cause is determined. Elimination of the causative factors in most cases completely cures bruxism.
AT HOME REMEDIES/ SELF HELP FOR BRUXISM:
1) Have lots of fluids, water is the best.
2) Use ice pack (cold fermentation) if jaw muscles are sore.
3) Avoid chewing gum.
4) Hard candies, nuts, etc that are hard to chew must be avoided.
5) Adequate sleep (8 hours).
6) Relax the facial muscles – self massage is beneficial.
HELP BY SPECIALIST FOR TREATING BRUXISM
1) If the underlying cause is found out to be emotional like anxiety or fear then some professional help/ counselor should be consulted. In case of sleep disorders, a physician can also be consulted.
2) Medications – the efficacy of medications against Bruxism is rather questionable, with no concrete proof of their benefits. Though a few researchers advocate the use of muscle relaxant, even Botox to reduce the adverse effects of Bruxism.
3) Mouth Guard or Splint – Mouth Guard can be prepared by the Dentist that covers the surface of the teeth to prevent the teeth from coming into direct contact with each other during the clenching episode. A new type pf splint called the NTI–tss is rather popular these days. This splint covers the front teeth of both the upper and lower jaw, so the molars of both the jaws are always separated hence reducing the contact between the teeth during the clenching episode. The main purpose of the mouth guard is to protect and limit the extent of bruxism related injuries to the lips, tongue, cheeks and finally the teeth.
4) Crowns and Bridges – In extreme cases, when patients suffering from Bruxism consult a specialist very late, either because of late diagnosis or the patient’s fear of treatment, a lot of damage to oral tissues has already been done. The teeth maybe severely worn down and may even have fracture lines that may be causing severe sensitivity and inability to eat regular food. In cases like these after understanding the underlying cause for Bruxism and going by the severity of the condition, crowns and bridges maybe recommended to the patients. In many cases, all the existing teeth are crowned to offer respite from sensitivity and allow the patients’ to eat regular food items and resume with their daily life.
At Sree Venkateswara Dental Clinics, we have always advocated that in cases of Bruxism, early diagnosis and help from a specialist is beneficial in preventing long term and permanent damage to teeth and oral tissues.
Sree Venkateswara Dental Clinics
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Restoring Smiles since 1973…