Bruxism – Teeth grinding, causes and treatment modalities
Bruxism is when a person grinds their teeth while not chewing. The teeth grind or rub together as the jaw moves forcefully either from side to side or back and forth. Often, the person is not aware that they are doing it
Teeth clenching is when a person holds their teeth together and clenches the muscles, but without moving the teeth back and forth.
People can grind or clench their teeth during the day and the night, but sleep-related bruxism poses a bigger challenge because it is harder to control.
Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders. It is an unconscious neuromuscular activity.
The cause of bruxism remains unclear, but several factors may be involved.
- Clenching and grinding often happen at times of stress, for example at times of anger, anxiety, or concentration. Research has found that brain activity and heart rate may rise before an episode of bruxism, suggesting that the central nervous system (CNS) plays a role.
- Bruxism may be related to an abnormal bite /malocclusion, which means the teeth do not meet properly when the jaw closes. If the top and bottom teeth do not come together properly, this is called an occlusal discrepancy. However, the American Academy of Oral Medicine notes that scientific research has not proven this. Having teeth that are missing or crooked can prompt the teeth to grind, and irritation may be a factor.
- Bruxism can be a side effect of certain medications, including some antidepressants and antipsychotics, and amphetamines.
Treatment will depend on the cause of the bruxism. There is no cure for bruxism, but options are available to relieve symptoms, and an underlying cause can be dealt with.
- Daytime clenching or grinding may improve with increased awareness, physical therapy, or exercises, but nocturnal bruxism needs other strategies, as it is outside the individual’s control.
- If the underlying problem is stress or sleep apnea, treating these conditions may help. After treatment, the situation can be reassessed.
- A mouth guard can be worn at night to protect the teeth, and short-term use of a muscle relaxant is a possible option.
The American Academy of Oral Medicine recommend a hard plastic mouth guard that covers all the teeth in either the upper or the lower arch.
Generic sports mouth guards are not advised, as they can come out of place, can be very bulky and cause more discomfort than they solve.
Over time, a mouth guard can wear down and lose its effectiveness. If the person stops using the mouth guard pain and symptoms may return, so it may not be a permanent solution.
4. Splints are another option. Some splints fit over the top teeth, some on the bottom. Depending on the design, a splint may keep the jaw in a more relaxed position or provide a barrier so that the splints, rather than the teeth, are damaged. Splints can be adjusted or replaced
5. Another tip is to relaxing the jaw muscles with a warm washcloth or a heating pad at least once a day, to ease their tension.
Zenith Dental Care in Noida Sector 37, has a team of TMJ specialists to deal with TMJ disorders in a systematic manner. It is extremely important to discuss the history to ascertain a cause and provide correct mode of treatment.
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