Bruxism is surprisingly common, with estimates that 8-15 percent of the general population suffer from teeth grinding. That’s a lot of people.
Yet, despite the widespread nature of this condition, scientists know surprisingly little about what causes it. Theories abound, and studies have linked Bruxism to various human habits, from smoking to sleeping and lying face up to plain old stress. In all probability, teeth grinding is probably triggered by a combination of these factors, which will vary from one person to the next.
What Causes Bruxism?
Most people with bruxism are unaware of the condition since it often occurs while asleep, but those nearby will often notice a grinding sound.
In addition to excessive tooth wear, bruxism causes tooth erosion due to tooth-on-tooth contact.
Symptoms also include:
- tooth fractures
- hypersensitive teeth
- periodontal inflammation
- waking up with a headache
- pain in the jaw
If left untreated, bruxism can result in severe dental problems. Eventually, teeth grinding wears teeth down, destroys enamel, and can even result in the destruction of dentin. Aside from affecting the teeth, bruxism can also cause harm to soft tissues including gums, resulting in gum recession, infection, and crenelations of the tongue.
To find out if you have bruxism, schedule an appointment with your prosthodontist. If there is damage to your teeth due to grinding teeth, your prosthodontist should be able to identify it.
BiteStrips are also available in our office for use at home to diagnose bruxism.
There are several methods available to control bruxism and minimize potential damage, though there is no cure for the condition.
1. Mouth guard
With this simple procedure, a custom mouthpiece is utilized in order to prevent clenching and teeth grinding. Typically, these guards are made of acrylic and are customized to fit a patient’s teeth perfectly. In particular, the NTI-TSS device, which functions as a bite-stop, can reduce tension headaches caused by Bruxism.
The fitting of this device must be done in our dental office as it covers the front teeth. By limiting and preventing the grinding of the rear molars, it helps to preserve their health.
Teeth grinding and clenching can be significantly reduced with the injection botox directly into specific muscles in the jaw.
Unlike normal chewing and speaking, this relaxes the jaw muscles enough to reduce grinding.
3. Directly dealing with triggers
Targeting potential triggers is sometimes the best way to control bruxism. Sometimes, reducing or eliminating these triggers, such as stress, sleep apnea, or underlying physiological causes, can reduce or stop teeth grinding.
It may be as simple as quitting caffeine (if it is a trigger) that can reduce teeth grinding episodes in some patients.
Once a patient’s teeth grinding is under control, your prosthodontist can repair, restore, and completely redefine their smile.
The Scary Reality of Sleep Bruxism
You are likely to encounter situations throughout your day that cause you an immediate adverse reaction, such as stress, fear, or anger. People often cope with psychological stress by grinding and clenching their teeth involuntarily, a behavior known as bruxism. In the absence of an immediate stressor, grinding and clenching may still occur. Regular clenching and grinding of teeth is often associated with stress and anxiety in bruxers. Sleep is one area where this feeling seeps in.
Bruxers fall into three categories: awake bruxers, sleep bruxers, and those who do both.
Those who suffer from stress, tension, anxiety, or fear often resort to awake bruxism as a coping mechanism.
As a result of high levels of stress during the day, sleep bruxism involves grinding and clenching while asleep.
It is not as common for people with sleep bruxism to be diagnosed because they are unaware they are doing it. However, sleep bruxism is a significant problem because a sleeping person is unaware of their bite strength. A sleep grinder could exert more than 200 pounds of bite force because of the clenching and teeth grinding.
Prevalence of Sleep Bruxism
Awake bruxism is usually found in older individuals, while sleep bruxism is seen more in young adults, adolescents, and children. The exact numbers are hard to come by because most people do not know they suffer from sleep bruxism. Individuals don’t find out until a dentist notices enamel chipping away and the obvious signs of tooth grinding or a loved one hears the grinding in the bruxer’s sleep.
The Sleep Foundation estimates that between 6% and 50% of children grind their teeth at night. In adolescents, sleep bruxism affects 15% of the population.
As you age, the likelihood of grinding your teeth during sleep decreases since only 3% of older adults and 8% of middle-aged adults do so.
Sleep Bruxism Symptoms
Sleep bruxism can start as soon as teeth grow in for toddlers and children. Paying attention to the early warning signs is vital to ensure that the issue does not become a problem. Sleep bruxism has two different symptoms depending on how quickly the issue is treated. In its mild form, an individual will need to worry about the following:
- Increase in headaches
- Excessive and abnormal chronic jaw pain
- Jaw clicking
- The teeth begin to wear down, and the enamel starts to break down
When caught early enough, these issues can be helped with proper orthodontic equipment and other holistic care. However, as sleep bruxism progresses and goes undiagnosed, the following may occur:
- Broken or loosened teeth.
- Excessive loss of teeth
- Changes in your appearance (aesthetic issues) and your facial profile.
- Injuring your jaw and neck muscles, as well as your TMJ.
- Teeth deterioration
You must pay attention to chronic jaw pain and headaches to see if you suffer from sleep bruxism. A prosthodontist can prescribe some appliances, like a night guard, so there is no contact between the teeth as you sleep.
Your prosthodontist may also recommend dealing with the bruxism at the source: daily stressors, anxiety, fear, etc.
Taking care of your teeth is essential, which means more than just brushing and flossing. If you believe you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or know that you grind or clench in your sleep, contact your prosthodontist immediately for a dental exam.