Understanding Bruxism

How do you know if you have bruxism?

Bruxism is a term that refers to teeth grinding, sometimes called bruxism. Bruxism is also known as teeth grinding, sleep bruxism or sleep proprioception. Bruxism can be caused by stress, muscle tension, improper alignment of teeth or a combination of both.

The grinding sound is heard during the night and although many times it is only a muffled sound, others have a definite grinding sound. Those people that have this condition will usually notice their teeth grinding from about 11 pm to 6 am. This can be irritating to some people as it can sometimes even be heard outside someones bedroom walls!

Causes of bruxism

Bruxism is a common condition but how did we get to the point where we now know that it exists? Well, by its description alone, we know that we have bruxism. The condition can be caused by stress or improper alignment of teeth or a combination of both. In addition, other conditions like neck pain, bruxism or TMJ can cause teeth grinding as well.

Can bruxism be cured?

It is often considered that bruxism is incredibly difficult to cure, as there are many reasons as to why a person develops the conditionHowever, there are ways to treat and improve the condition. To treat bruxism, two main approaches can be taken.

Firstly, a mouth guard can be used to prevent teeth from coming into contact. For people who grind their teeth, a mouth guard will be used as there tends to be evidence of bruxism where teeth come into contact. Mouth guards are custom made and fitted to the person who will wear it all night. The procedure is painless and the discomfort will wear off after a few days.

Secondly, lifestyle changes can be made to address the underlying cause. In this case, there are a number of things that need to be done such as, reducing caffeine intake, chewing gum, practicing jaw clenching exercises and stress-relieving exercises. Those that grind their teeth may also experience facial pain and tinnitus. The effects are temporary but they can be frustrating.

There are also a number of books that can be used to teach dental patients how to manage stress and anxiety, and also treat bruxism.

Bottom line

The bottom line is that although the cause of bruxism cannot be identified in most cases, there is increasing understanding of its symptoms and treatments. Most people who grind their teeth do not experience any pain or discomfort and they do not know that they do. However, their facial pain, ear pain and TMJ can be very frustrating. Even though a mouth guard can be used to prevent teeth from coming into contact, lifestyle changes may prove to be more effective in the long term. For people who grind their teeth, certain exercises can be done in addition to the ones mentioned above to reduce the pain and discomfort.

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