What is Bruxism and What are the Causes?
Bruxism is a condition in which an individual grinds or clenches their teeth, often unconsciously. It can occur during the day or night. Common signs and symptoms of bruxism include headaches, jaw pain, facial pain, earaches, worn tooth enamel, and damaged teeth.
If left untreated for too long, bruxism can cause serious oral health problems. The exact causes of bruxism are not yet known but it is believed to be linked to stress and anxiety, as well as certain medical conditions such as sleep apnea.
Treatment for bruxism includes lifestyle changes, stress management techniques, and medications. Symptoms of bruxism are diagnosed by observing the signs and symptoms of grinding or clenching teeth. There are a variety of symptoms that may indicate the presence of bruxism. These include cracking teeth, facial pain, headaches, and general jaw discomfort. Some common signs and symptoms include unpleasant smells around the mouth, worn tooth enamel, and visibly damaged teeth from grinding.
The Effects of Bruxism on Oral Health
Bruxism can have a significant impact on oral health, leading to tooth wear, damage to the jaw joints, and headaches. In addition, bruxism can cause discomfort and pain in the mouth and face. Understanding the effects of bruxism on oral health is essential for preventing further damage.
The most common effects of bruxism on oral health include gum recession, which occurs when the gums pull away from the teeth; gum disease which is caused by bacteria buildup; and jaw pain due to the strain that bruxism puts on the jaw muscles. All of these conditions can lead to tooth decay and loss if left untreated for too long. Additionally, bruxism can also cause headaches due to tension in the facial muscles caused by grinding or clenching your teeth.
If the pressure applied from grinding is high enough it can cause damage to sensitive tissues; this includes dental enamel, bone, or soft tissue (such as lips), which can lead to problems such as tooth sensitivity or sores in areas where there are no teeth (pericoronitis). There is also an increased risk of developing TMJ disorder.
Diagnosing and Treating Bruxism
Diagnosing and treating bruxism is important for maintaining dental health and preventing further damage to the teeth and jaw. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can usually diagnose a person with bruxism by asking about symptoms, such as feeling a clicking or cracking sensation in the jaw muscles during sleep, waking up with an aching or throbbing jaw and wearing out teeth on one side of the mouth.
Diagnosis of bruxism includes a physical exam, dental x-rays, and self-reporting. Treatment for bruxism includes lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bedtime, stress management techniques, and dental splints or mouth guards to protect the teeth from grinding at night. In severe cases, medications may be prescribed to help relax the jaw muscles and reduce grinding.
Preventing Bruxism with Lifestyle Changes & Self-Care Practices
There are lifestyle changes and self-care practices that can help reduce or even prevent bruxism. By making simple changes to your daily routine and being mindful of your habits, you can take control of this condition.
Smoking and gum chewing are activities that are linked with bruxism. Additionally, using mobile phones or tablets before bedtime can also be a contributing factor to bruxism because the light emitted by devices can interrupt sleep.
A sleep journal can help you find out what might be preventing you from getting a full night of sleep, so it is important to keep track of your sleep habits in order to make changes as needed. It is recommended that people undergo a physical exam every three years to detect any signs of serious issues such as jaw muscle involvement.
How Dentists can Help Manage Bruxism Symptoms?
Dentists play an important role in helping manage bruxism symptoms and protecting your oral health. Through regular check-ups and the use of specialized treatments, dentists can help you identify and address any issues related to bruxism before they become more serious.
They can provide treatments such as mouth guards, splints, and occlusal adjustment to reduce the intensity of the grinding and protect the teeth from further damage. Additionally, they can provide advice on lifestyle changes such as less caffeine and more exercise to reduce or even eliminate bruxism-related symptoms. By working closely with a dentist, you can take steps to ensure your oral health is protected from the damaging effects of bruxism and improve your quality of life.