Bruxism: Why We Clench and Grind Our Teeth

Bruxism Why We Clench and Grind Our TeethBruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding, is a pretty common condition. In fact, about 8-31 percent of the American population suffer from it –that’s roughly one in three people give or take.

Now, most people don’t think much of it because they feel that it’ll go away –and it does, particularly in mild cases. Bruxism can be mild or severe depending on the cause. There are two major types of bruxism:

  • Sleep Bruxism
  • Awake Bruxism

The first happens when you’re deeply asleep. So, you may not even be aware of it until you wake up; and even then, the major sign would be slight or severe jaw pains depending on the severity of the grinding.

The second happens during the course of the day. Most people who do this do it unconsciously and may not even be aware that they are doing until the grinding sound tells them they are doing it.

Many people don’t often think about how damaging this can be. Some patients often grind their teeth so severely that they may even require cosmetic or reconstructive dental surgery to have normal looking teeth.

Causes of Bruxism

The specific causes of bruxism aren’t known. What is known is that certain people with certain predispositions are more inclined to developing it over time. Women tend to suffer more from awake bruxism than men while the ratio is evenly distributed among both sexes for sleep bruxism.

That said, people with unaligned jaws, malocclusion in the forms of overbite, cross-bite, and under-bite tend to grind their teeth more –usually in the bid to create some sort of balance in their jaws.

Then, there is the study that has linked bruxism to conditions like anxiety, stress, snoring, and fatigue. Other possible causes according to the study include habits like caffeine consumption, indulging in alcohol and smoking.

Some studies have also linked the consumption of amphetamines and anti-anxiety pills to teeth grinding. If you’re on any of these and are experiencing bruxism, the chances are that it’ll stop when you stop taking the medications.

Sleep bruxism has also been connected with sleep apnea as indicated by some studies that suggested that treating sleep apnea could possibly reduce the instances of sleep bruxism.

Symptoms of Bruxism

The symptoms of bruxism often include teeth extra sensitivity, mild to severe jaw pains, headaches and earaches, locked jaws, chipped and damaged teeth. It doesn’t matter if you suffer from awake or sleep bruxism. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, then you should see your dentist immediately.

Treatment Options for Bruxism

Sometimes, bruxism can be a situational thing or a phase. This is particularly common among kids –about 15 percent of all children do this. Sometimes, all the child has to do is outgrow it and for parents to be patient when they’re going through the phase. Seeing your dentist about this should help clear things up quickly.

Apart from this, there are other treatments known to successfully help reduce and completely eliminate teeth grinding. However, none of them include the use of pills or medications for sleep bruxism.

For instance, patients can be provided with grinding mouth guards to be worn when they go to bed. These are slightly stronger than the mouthguard used in sports and is meant to protect the teeth from any grinding and gnashing.

Other treatment measures may include cutting out some drugs and stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, energy drinks and anything that generally increases your energy levels by “manipulating” your adrenal glands. You should also start engaging in more stress relieving activities, adopting a proper rest schedule, and treating sleep apnea if you suffer from it.

Whatever you decide, it’s always best to consult with your local dentist, like Premier Smile,  to figure out the best treatment options for you.

Sources:
http://www.cfdds.com/images/pdfs/bruxism.pdf
http://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/content/abstract/119/1/53

About the author:

Oscar King is a freelance writer and family man who shares articles in raising a family in a healthy and happy fashion. If you would like to learn more about Oscar, you can check out his Google+ profile.

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