Bruxism causes gum recession and is considered a sleep related movement disorder. A what? Typically, people who grind their teeth during sleep have sleeping disorders like snoring or sleep apnea. If you have mild bruxism you really don’t need to do much about it, but if it’s frequent, it can lead to headaches, jaw pain or TMD (Tempo Mandibular Disorder), damaged teeth, gum recession and more.
DO YOU HAVE BRUXISM?
You do if you regularly grind or clench your teeth. With all of the stress and anxiety we deal with everyday, the majority of people are likely to grind or clench their teeth at night. You may be unconsciously doing it while awake or when you’re asleep but either way, it’s not good for your teeth, gums or jaw.
You may be grinding your teeth and not even realize it until you know the symptoms or start to have some complications. If you know what the symptoms are before it gets more serious, you can avoid more severe difficulties.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I grind or clench my teeth in my sleep? It may even be loud enough to wake up your spouse or significant other.
- Are my teeth flattened, fractured, chipped or loose?
- Is my enamel worn and exposing the deeper layers of my tooth?
- Do I have increased tooth pain or sensitivity?
- Do I have tired or tight jaw muscles, or does my jaw lock and won’t open or close completely?
- Do I have jaw, neck or face pain or soreness?
- Do I have pain that feels like an earache? Even though it’s actually not a problem with your ear…
- Do I get dull headaches starting in your temples?
- Do I get damage from chewing/biting on the inside of my cheek?
- Is my sleep disrupted?
If you have any of the above symptoms, or any worries about your teeth or jaw, see your dentist or doctor. If you have dental
implants, grinding or clenching your teeth can even loosen your implants!
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF BRUXISM?
It’s not clear exactly what causes Bruxism, but it could be physical, psychological or genetic factors, or a combination. If you grind or clench while you’re awake (Awake Bruxism), it could be tension, stress, anxiety, anger or frustration. It could be a coping strategy or even a habit from deep concentration. If you’re a sleep grinder/clencher, it could be a sleep related chewing activity. It could also be caused by an abnormal bite or even missing or crooked teeth.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS OF BRUXISM?
- Age – it is common in younger children but they will usually grow out of it by maturity.
- Personality – Anger and frustration as well as aggressive, competitive or overactive personalities may increase the chance of it.
- Medications – Medications, such as some anti-depressants, caffeine, alcohol, smoking or recreational drugs can increase your risk of bruxism.
- Stress – Increased apprehension or worry can lead to teeth grinding. Also, anger and frustration.
- Genetics – Surprisingly, bruxism can occur in families. If you have it, other family members may also have it or have had it in the past.
- Other Causes – Bruxism can even be linked with several medical and mental health conditions like dementia, gastro esophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, Parkinson’s disease and ADHD.
IS GRINDING TEETH SERIOUS?
Typically, teeth grinding isn’t serious but the symptoms are annoying and can cause some damage to your teeth and gums. Severe bruxism can be more serious and damage your teeth, implants or crowns, cause bone loss or gum recession, tension headaches and severe facial, ear or jaw pain. It can even lead to Temporomandibular joint diseases (TMD). This is the joint right in front of your ears and may make clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth. Bruxism damage can cause the wearing down of teeth to mere stumps, requiring crowns, root canals, bridges, implants, partial or even complete dentures. It can even cause gum recession which can even lead to bone and tooth loss.
HOW DO I TREAT BRUXISM?
For most cases, you may not need treatment. Kids tend to outgrow it without any treatment and some adults’ symptoms aren’t severe enough to need therapy. But if your symptoms are uncomfortable enough, there are options:
- Get a mouth guard/night guard, this minimized the damaging forces from grinding.
- Dental Treatments could be a splint or mouth guard which will keep your teeth and jaw in place and not allow them to move, thus avoiding the damage grinding and clenching can cause.
- Avoiding or cutting back on foods and drinks with caffeine (chocolate, coffee) can help as can avoiding alcohol. For some reason clenching and grinding are increased after alcohol consumption.
- Don’t chew anything that isn’t food, like pencils, pens, or fingernails. Even gum chewing should be avoided as it gets the jaw muscles used to clenching and more likely to grind.
Occlusal Adjustment. This is reshaping the teeth which also minimizes the damage from bruxism.
- Other treatment options include stress or anxiety management if your bruxism is due to these factors.
- Biofeedback is an option that uses monitoring procedures/equipment to teach you how to control the muscle activity in your jaw.
- Eliminate grinding triggers. This option is best exercised through stress therapy and changing habits that might contribute to Bruxism. If you notice that you’re clenching, place your tongue between your top and bottom teeth forcing your jaw muscles to relax.
- Behavior change may help you by practicing proper mouth and jaw positioning. Your dentist can help you find the best position for your mouth and jaw.
- Changing your medications may be an option for you as well. If your bruxism is caused by medication, your doctor may be able to switch it to a new one.
- Muscle relaxants, Botox injections or anti-anxiety medication that helps you deal with the stress or emotional issues may help. Discuss these options with your doctor.
- If your bruxism is a sleep related disorder, like sleep apnea, treating the disorder can improve your symptoms.
- Bruxism caused by a medical issue may be helped by treating that condition.
If you’re noticing symptoms of bruxism, talk with your doctor or dentist to confirm your diagnosis and what the best plan is
for you to address it. If you’re noticing your gums are receding or shrinking, make an appointment to see a periodontist. We specialize in the pain-free Pinhole Surgical Technique.
Your health matters to us. If you have any questions concerning this post, call us at (248) 357-3100 today.
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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions or bruxism.