Do you suffer from bruxism? Bruxism or teeth grinding is an unconscious neuromuscular activity. It is a medical condition where you gnash, clench, or grind your teeth. Some people are not aware that they have bruxism because it manifests during sleep. Mild bruxism does not need treatment. A serious or frequent manifestation of bruxism needs medical intervention to prevent possible complications or address any underlying issues.
Two types of Bruxism
- Awake bruxism – An unconscious teeth clenching while awake.
- Sleep bruxism – A sleep disorder that is or is not connected to other conditions like snoring or sleep apnea.
What causes Bruxism?
It is still unknown what really causes bruxism. However, doctors and medical professionals believe that it can be attributed to genetic, physical, and psychological factors.
Sleep bruxism can be a sleep-related chewing movement that is linked with arousal. Awake bruxism is associated with emotional responses like stress, anxiety, anger, or frustration. It can also be a habit or a coping strategy.
What are the signs and symptoms of bruxism?
- Loud teeth clenching or grinding
- Tight or tired jaw muscles
- Locked jaw or wide jaw
- Pain or soreness of the face, jaw, or neck
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Fractured, chipped, or flattened teeth
- Pain in the ear that is not related to ear-problems
- Sleep disruption
- Dull headache that begins in the temple
Are there risk factors that increase the risk of suffering from bruxism?
Bruxism may run in the family. If you have it, chances are, your family has a history of teeth grinding. Other risk factors include:
- Age – Teeth clenching is common in children but typically stops during adulthood.
- Stress – Constant or prolonged anxiety and stress increase the possibility of having this condition. Strong emotions like frustration and anger are significant factors, especially if you keep them bottled up inside.
- Personality – If you are hyperactive, aggressive, or competitive, you are prone to bruxism.
- Medications and substances – Some psychiatric drugs can cause bruxism. It is one of the uncommon side effects of the medication. The risk is also higher when you smoke tobacco, use recreational drugs, or drink alcohol and other caffeinated beverages.
- Other medical and mental health issues – Sleep grinding is also associated with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sleep apnea, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).
When to seek help?
If you have any of the following symptoms, visit your doctor or dentist to mitigate more damage to your teeth, jaw, and face or neck muscles.
Bruxism may also lead to tension-type headaches, severe jaw or facial discomfort, and temporomandibular joints (TMJs) disorder. TMJ is a clicking sound when you open or close the mouth. Luckily, teeth grinding does not cause serious complications.
What are the various bruxism treatments?
Dental approaches, such as using a mouth splint or a mouth guard, are practiced to reduce the unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth. Custom-made mouthguards are expensive and do not truly treat the condition.
If bruxism has led to chewing discomfort or sensitivity of the teeth, your dentist may recommend the use of crowns to treat the damage. He can also recommend a Reductive Coronoplasty procedure to reshape the biting surface of the teeth.
Muscle-relaxation exercises and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are also good options. They are recommended if your bruxism is stress-related. Medications like muscle relaxants and anti-depressant drugs can also alleviate bruxism.
If it is sleep-related, you can consult a sleep medicine specialist. They can determine if your teeth grinding episodes are due to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Another modern approach is biofeedback. It is a technique that uses specialised monitoring equipment and procedures to help you control the muscle activity of the jaw.
If the mentioned treatments and techniques are not effective, you can try a Botox injection, which is recommended for people with a wide jaw. Bruxism can cause over-developing of the jaw muscle (masseter) that leads to a wide jaw. In this case, a wide jaw treatment using Botox is your best option.
Is Botox injection safe?
According to studies, botulinum toxin (Botox) injection can effectively relieve the stress of the surrounding masseter muscle. It also reduces the frequency of teeth grinding and the discomfort that it brings.
Botox is a safe Bruxism treatment for people who grind their teeth and with masseter hypertrophy or wide, square-shaped jawline. This treatment involves a series of tiny injections to the masseter muscle for it to relax and become smaller.
The whole procedure will take only around 30 minutes. You can go back to your usual routine or work right after the treatment, and you can fully recover within 24 hours.
Results can last up to 6 months. Before the treatment, the specialist will determine if you are qualified based on your medical history.
Finding the best method to alleviate and cure bruxism is the key to a peaceful and happy lifestyle. Do not let the teeth grinding condition or a wide jaw keep you from having a good life or relationship. Seek help from medical or dental experts to help you manage and get rid of the problem for the long term.