Bruxism is the term used for describing the permanent habit of clenching, grinding or gnashing of teeth. It is estimated that almost 15–30% of kids grind their teeth but outgrow the habit when they get their adult teeth. But some adults continue with this habit due to stress and anxiety. Teeth grinding usually occurs subconsciously, especially during sleep. It is important to recognize the symptoms of this condition as it can cause permanent damage to teeth and other oral health problems.
Types of Bruxism
1. Sleep bruxism: This is subconscious grinding of teeth and squeezing of jaw muscles during sleep.
2. Awake bruxism: This is habitual but subconscious clenching of teeth when awake. Most people do it when concentrating on something.
Causes of Bruxism
People who suffer from stress and anxiety are more likely to have this habit of teeth clenching during sleep. About 70 percent of the cases occur due to stress.
2. Abnormal teeth alignment
This is referred to as imperfect bite, i.e., when the teeth are not aligned normally. It can occur when the top and bottom rows of teeth are unable to align properly. This is called as an occlusal discrepancy.
This can be as a result of complications from certain disorders like Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease.
Bruxism can be a side effect of certain medications like psychotrophic, antidepressants, and antipsychotic drugs.
5. Lifestyle factors
Teeth grinding can be a repercussion of abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs.
6. Personality traits
Certain personality traits can lead to teeth grinding habit like suppressed anger, frustration, hyperactiveness, competitiveness, and aggressiveness.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Most people have no specific symptoms of teeth grinding. But the following some short term effects that can be observed:
1. Sleep disruption from noise due to clenching of teeth. Sometimes the noise is loud enough to awake the person sleeping next to you.
2. Pain in the jaw and facial muscles.
5. Stiffness in the shoulder muscles.
Some long term effects are:
1. The crown of the tooth shortens, leading to wearing out of the tooth.
2. Tooth sensitivity increases.
3. Cracking of the teeth making them prone to infections.
4. Pain in jaw joints.
Treatment of Bruxism
1. Stress Management
If the cause of bruxism is stress, then counseling and adapting relaxation strategies like yoga may help. If your kid suffers from this due to fear and anxiety, then talk to him about the problems. Your child should relax before sleeping by reading a story or listening to soothing music.
This is a dental approach to stop bruxism. This is an acrylic mouth guard which is fitted onto the upper or lower jaw.
3. Alignment of teeth
Correction of misalignment of teeth is useful when bruxism is due to imperfect positioning of teeth.
Usually doctors do not prescribe any medicines for this. But they may recommend you some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants to be taken before sleep.