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Bruxism

BruxismBruxism can be a hellacious disorder, as it involves the grinding and gnashing of teeth. Bruxism usually happens while people sleep, although some individuals tend to clench their teeth during the day in addition to grinding them at night. Because bruxism often occurs during sleep, knowing the signs and symptoms of the disorder and how to recognize them may alert you to the problem.

Symptoms of Bruxism

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth, often loudly
  • Jaw pain or tightness around your jaw
  • Headache, usually upon waking
  • Earache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Worn, chipped, or fractured teeth
  • Damage to your tongue or the inside of your cheek
  • Gum inflammation
  • TMJ (Temporomandibular Jaw Disorder)

Causes of Bruxism

It not clear what causes bruxism, even for doctors. Possible causes may include:

  • Stress or anxiety, resulting in jaw tension
  • Malocclusion, or abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth
  • Nerve disorders like Parkinson’s disease
  • Other sleep-related problems

Risk Factors for Bruxism

These factors commonly play a role in cases of bruxism:

  • Stress
  • Age

Bruxism commonly occurs in young children and tends to go away with the onset of adolescence.

  • Use of stimulants

Smoking, taking drugs, and drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, can increase your risk for bruxism.

  • Heredity
  • Taking certain antidepressants

Treatments for Bruxism

Treatment for bruxism is often unnecessary. Children with bruxism tend to outgrow the disorder, and most adult cases are not bad enough to require treatment. For severe cases of bruxism, there are several therapy options available:

  • Stress management
  • Mouth guards - These are often worn at night to relieve the pressure of incessant grinding.
  • Dentally correcting misaligned teeth
  • Behavior therapy - This method highlights proper mouth and jaw position in an effort to form new habits and eliminate grinding and clenching the teeth.
  • Medications like muscle relaxants and sleep aids

If left untreated, severe cases of bruxism can result in loss of natural teeth, jaw-related medical disorders, and gum damage.