What is bruxism?
Bruxism is the involuntary grinding or gritting of one’s teeth. Although it often occurs at night, bruxism can also happen during the day. Quite often, the person suffering from this disorder doesn’t even know it. The pressure exerted on teeth is several times greater than during chewing.
Two types of bruxism:
- Static (gritting of teeth without any movement)
- Dynamic (side-to-side or back-and-forth movements of the jaw)
The intense pressure and friction caused by bruxism can seriously damage teeth and jaws, as well as cause muscular tension in the neck. With dynamic bruxism, a loud grinding sound is produced.
Bruxism becomes less prevalent with age. It is estimated that 14% to 38% of children, 12% of teenagers, 6% to 8% of adults and 3% to 5% of people aged 60 and over suffer from bruxism. However, only 10% of people are aware of it, due to its unconscious nature.
How do I know if I grind my teeth at night?
Often, a partner will detect the problem first because he or she is awoken at night by the grinding noise. You can also keep an eye out for the symptoms that point to this bad habit.
The symptoms of bruxism include:
- Headache upon waking
- Painful jaws, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) fatigue upon waking
- Prematurely worn out, cracked or loose teeth
- Broken dental restorations
- Tooth sensitivity
- Gingival recession
- Cervical neuralgia and neck and shoulder pain
- Enlargement of chewing muscles
- Limited mouth movement (opening and closing of jaw) and cracking noises
Causes of bruxism
The causes of bruxism causes are not fully known, but they can be physical:
- Dental alignment problems
- Ear or toothaches
- Acid reflux
- Complications from a disease, like Parkinson’s
- Side effects of some medication and drugs
- Stimulants before bed, such as caffeine, hyperactivity, etc.
In most cases, however, the cause is psychological. Bruxism is often associated with stress, anxiety, anger and frustration.
How can I stop grinding my teeth?
If the condition is caused by a malocclusion, it can be treated with orthodontics. But when the condition is caused by anxiety, it’s important to focus on the source of stress and on one’s lifestyle:
- Avoid stimulants before bed (caffeine, sugar)
- Minimize or eliminate sources of stress
- Exercise daily
- Try some relaxation techniques or meditate before bed
- During the day, make a conscious effort to relax your face muscles
Biteplate: An efficient solution
In all cases, the best way to curtail the unwanted effects and damages to teeth is to use a biteplate. A biteplate is a small plastic tray that is custom-made using an impression of your teeth. Worn at night, it prevents teeth from coming in direct contact with each other. It also evenly distributes any pressure exerted by the jaw to minimize pain. A biteplate prevents pain in the jaw and teeth from getting damaged, in addition to eliminating other symptoms. It’s a simple, comfortable and effective solution.
Take action before your teeth get damaged
Bruxism can cause permanent damage to teeth. It is best to quickly diagnose the situation so that its causes can be examined and corrective actions can be taken. If you think you may be suffering from bruxism, speak with your dentist. Your health and your quality of life will be greatly improved!