Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Prevention and Treatment
Bruxism is when you grind your teeth without being fully aware that you are doing it. Some people with bruxism grind their teeth while asleep and this condition is called “nocturnal bruxism” or “sleep-related bruxism.” There are others who do it when they are tensed or nervous. Read more to about teeth grinding, and prevention and treatment options.
Bruxism can damage your teeth, fracturing your dental fillings. In some serious cases, bruxism is blamed for temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), mysterious facial pain and unexplained morning headaches.
What causes Bruxism?
Experts believe that bruxism can be manifested by psychological and physical condition of a person – stress as the major factor. Teeth grinding can also be the cause of mal-alignment of the teeth or the improper way they come together. Complications with severe brain injury can also trigger bruxism. Sometimes it acts as a symptom of some rare neuromuscular diseases that involve the face. Lastly, bruxism might be a side-effect of a psychiatric medication that uses fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil).
What are the symptoms of Bruxism?
Watch out for the following symptoms of bruxism:
- Regular contractions of the jaw muscles
- Disturbing grinding sound at night
- Morning headache
- Continuous facial pain
- Damage on teeth, dental fillings and gums
How to diagnose patients with Bruxism?
In the dental practice, your dentist will determine your psychological condition by asking about your life stresses, overall dental health condition and the medicine you are currently taking. You will also be asked if you’re drinking alcoholic beverages and those with caffeine, and how much is your intake.
Your mouth and jaw will be thoroughly examined to find any dental abnormalities, like if you have missing or broken teeth or if there is any sign of poor tooth alignment. Once the dentist suspects that you have bruxism, expect for a more detailed assessment such as x-rays.
If you find out that your child grinds his/her teeth, immediately discuss it with your dentist. Although it’s true that children can outgrow bruxism, short-term tooth grinding could harm your kid’s permanent teeth.
How long will Bruxism last?
Half of the children with bruxism between the ages of 3 to 10 will outgrow teeth grinding by the age of 13.
In the case of teenagers, the treatment of bruxism may vary depending on the person. For example, if a teenager lives a stressful life, it may take years to treat. For cases caused by dental problem, bruxism is expected to stop immediately after the teeth are either re-aligned or repaired.
How do I prevent Bruxism?
You can prevent bruxism in various ways. If caused by stress, seek for a professional counselor to learn the strategies on how to relax and live a stress free life. If bruxism is caused by stimulants, avoid drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages and stop smoking because it leads to further oral problems.
For both adult and children, tooth damage related bruxism is best prevented by wearing a bite splint or a night bite plate.