If you grind your teeth a lot, and you wake up with pain in the jaw, neck, or head, then you may have bruxism. Sometimes a person is not even aware that he or she is grinding or clenching their teeth at night until a routine dental visit reveals significant tooth wearing or damage to restorations. Bruxism can be treated effectively with the help of a nightguard.
WHAT IS BRUXISM?
You grind or clench your teeth once in a while and it doesn’t cause any harm. But if you regularly grind your teeth, then it can hurt your jaw muscles, TMJ, and teeth. The excessive clenching of the jaw or grinding of teeth, which usually occurs while you are sleeping is called bruxism or teeth grinding.
CAUSES OF BRUXISM/ TEETH GRINDING
- Emotional stress or anxiety- Stress, anger, anxiety, or tension which is experienced during the daytime can be carried over to sleep and many people grind their teeth repeatedly or clench them unknowingly during sleep.
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or snoring
- Diseases like Parkinson’s disease, GERD, epilepsy, etc.
TYPES OF BRUXISM
In sleep bruxism, you clench your teeth while sleeping which may cause more harm as you are unaware of how strongly you are clenching your jaw and teeth.
Awake bruxism is more common in adults who work under stressful conditions. You clench the jaw and teeth during the day if you are stressed, angry, or even at the time of over-concentration in this condition. It can be treated with the help of stress management and learning ways to notice and stop the grinding of teeth.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF BRUXISM?
Bruxism is hard on your teeth, jaws, and muscles. According to an estimation, people with bruxism apply six times more force than normal forces while biting or clenching.
Tooth damage can range from cracks in teeth to fractured teeth leading to pain in teeth and even tooth loss in worst cases. Bruxism can lead to broken teeth, filling, or a crown. It can lead to changes in your facial profile and your looks (due to reduced height of teeth). The stress from bruxism can also damage the supporting tissues like gums and muscles.
The other signs and symptoms of bruxism are-
- Unexplained Headaches or facial pain, especially when you get up in the morning
- Jaw pain or stiffness and discomfort at the TMJ
- Severe muscle pain
- Unusual stiffness and pain near the head and neck
- Difficulty or pain in chewing food
- Difficulty in getting sleep and restlessness during sleep at night, so the person feels daytime sleepiness.
- Teeth sensitivity to hot and cold
- Indentations along the side of the tongue
TEETH GRINDING IN CHILDREN
Teeth grinding is possible in children too like adults. Parents usually hear the sounds of teeth grinding of children during sleep. Sleep bruxism can develop as early as 4 years of age, but it peaks around 10 to 14 years of age. Children may outgrow the bruxism by the time they lose their milk teeth. Stress is the main cause of bruxism in adults but in the case of children it may be due to
- Misaligned teeth
- Sleep apnoea(snoring)
HOW TO STOP BRUXISM OR TEETH GRINDING
Talk to your dentist to help in identifying and treating or interrupting bruxism. The various methods available are-
Luckily, there is an effective and non-invasive solution available in the form of custom-made plastic nightguards. An impression is taken of your teeth, and a flexible and customized nightguard is made for your mouth. It is also called mouthguard or grind guard. These nightguards are worn during sleep to protect the teeth from wear and tear. These custom-made nightguards act as a barrier between the upper and lower teeth. This treatment is called SPLINT THERAPY.
Advantages of wearing night guards
If you wear your nightguard faithfully, it can go a long way in improving your health if you are suffering from bruxism. The various advantages are-
- Prevents severe headaches and muscle pain
- Prevents gum recession
- Prevents TMJ pain
- Prevents wear and tear of teeth
- Improves the sleep pattern
Medications like muscle relaxants
Talking to your physician to modify if this is happening as a side effect of some medicines
HOME REMEDIES OR SELF CARE TIPS TO STOP TEETH GRINDING/ BRUXISM
It is important to wear your nightguard devotedly if you clench your teeth during sleep, but you can also follow a few self-care tips to prevent the worsening of your habit of teeth grinding.
- Reduce your anxiety and stress level- Start doing exercise, meditation, practice yoga, listen to soothing music, do some stress-bursting activities or take a warm bath before going to bed. Do whatever can help you to alleviate your stress or anxiety.
- Say no to alcohol and caffeine– Avoid your alcohol and caffeine intake. Instead of these, opt for herbal tea or turmeric tea to relax your body and to keep your mind calm.
- Relax your jaw muscles by stretching exercises – Make an effort to keep your jaw and facial muscles relaxed. Certain muscle stretching exercises will help in reducing the discomfort due to teeth grinding. These exercises are-
- Maintain a gap between upper and lower teeth: Place your upper and lower teeth mindfully so that there is a gap between them except while chewing to avoid teeth grinding. Try doing this exercise for the whole day.
- Jaw exercise: Open your mouth wide open and try to touch your front teeth with your tongue. This will help in relaxing the jaw muscles.
- Warm compress- Put a warm washcloth against your cheeks for 15minutes on one side and then on the other. It can relax your jaw muscles by increasing the blood circulation in that area.
- Avoid chewing pencils or pens.
- Avoid chewing gums and frequent snacking.
- Maintain a proper posture by sitting straight, with your head up and shoulders squared.
- Stick your tongue between your teeth
Mantra for avoiding teeth grinding:
LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART! (This would prevent excessive pressure from being applied to jaw muscles due to teeth clenching)
It is important to visit your dentist regularly and to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism as you may have bruxism and you are unaware of it till the complications develop. If you suspect that teeth grinding or bruxism is the cause of your unexplained headaches, neck or jaw pain, please contact your dentist or Shubham Dental Clinic and book an appointment.