Have you ever felt the uncontrollable need to grind your teeth? Or perhaps you wake up and find yourself clenching your jaw, or your pillow is chewed through. You might be experiencing a common condition known as bruxism.
Although this condition might appear harmless, it can cause significant damage to the teeth when left untreated. It can lead to several dental problems, including tooth wear, gum recession, and even tooth loss. In this article, we will discuss the causes of bruxism, its symptoms, and how you can treat it.
Sleep Bruxism and Awake Bruxism: What’s the Difference?
Bruxism is a general term that refers to grinding and clenching your teeth. There are two main types: sleep bruxism and awake bruxism.
Sleep bruxism occurs during periods of unconsciousness, such as while you’re sleeping. It can also happen when transitioning from a period of wakefulness to sleep. It typically occurs during dreams and can involve tooth grinding, jaw clenching, and tightness in the facial muscles. This type of bruxism is often called a nighttime teeth grinder.
On the other hand, awake bruxism can occur when you’re awake and is often accompanied by tension in the face and neck, such as when concentrating at work or while watching a movie. Because this type of bruxism tends to cause significant wear on the teeth over time, it’s more likely to lead to dental problems than sleep bruxism.
Teeth grinding that is mild does not usually cause any problems. However, if left untreated, it may progress to more severe conditions, such as tooth loss or crowding.
Aside from that, one of the most prevalent adverse effects of bruxism is Temporomandibular disorder, also known as TMD. It affects the joints in your jaw, which produce clicking noises as you make opening and closing motions on your mouth.
This condition can affect how you speak and even cause problems with the jaw hinge. When severe, it can also lead to permanent loss or damage to the internal structures of your mouth.
Treatment and Remedies for Bruxism
While there are no home remedies or medications that can stop you from grinding or clenching your teeth, there are ways to prevent the damage. It’s best to take the following precautions to reduce your bruxism risks:
Having your teeth straightened with braces or another form of fixed orthodontic treatment can help alleviate the stress on your jaw and prevent it from clenching, which can lead to bruxism.
If you want to learn more about your dental implant alternatives, schedule a consultation with your dentist. Inquire about any treatment plans that may help you prevent or eliminate bruxism.
Wearing protective dental devices is the best way to preserve your teeth if you have sleep bruxism. An occlusal night guard splint and other oral sleep appliances might help reduce damage to your teeth by taking some tooth-grinding pressure off of them.
However, it’s best to consult with a professional before buying any dental appliances.
Medicines and Sleep Aids
Some medications can help stop bruxism by reducing the tension in your jaw muscles. It’s best to consult a physician before taking any over-the-counter medicines for teeth grinding or clenching.
Your doctor may be able to prescribe a drug that can help reduce your bruxism symptoms after you’ve made other lifestyle changes. They might prescribe sleep aids like antihistamines or antidepressants to make it easier for you to fall asleep without teeth grinding.
If you have trouble overcoming bruxism, it’s best to consult with a psychological health professional. These providers may be able to help you overcome your grinding habit through relaxation exercises or cognitive behavioral therapy sessions.
This type of therapy can be beneficial for patients who grind their teeth when they are awake. The therapist may recommend that these patients somehow distract themselves from clenching or grinding the jaw at such times.
Early Treatment and Prevention is Best
As with most dental problems, early treatment of bruxism is best for your mouth. Not only will it prevent tooth loss and damage to your teeth, but also damage to other parts of your mouth, such as your gums and jaw joints.
If you feel like you may be grinding or clenching your teeth, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss treatment options. You can also find out if any preventive procedures can keep your teeth in good shape for years to come.
Bruxism is a common problem that can lead to several adverse effects, such as tooth loss, Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), and other dental problems. However, there are several ways to prevent and treat bruxism. These include orthodontic treatment, dental devices, medicines and sleep aids, and psychological support. Early treatment is best to avoid further damage.