Overview – What is Bruxism or Teeth Grinding?
Do you grind teeth while sleeping or in an awake state? It is a dental disorder called bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding. You unknowingly engage in teeth grinding and jaw clenching if you have bruxism. There are 2 types of bruxism. When you gnash your teeth during sleep, it is known as sleep bruxism. Whereas clenching teeth while being wide awake indicates awake bruxism.
You might have lots of doubts if you are going through this disorder. This post answers all your questions, including why I grind my teeth at night, what causes teeth grinding, how to stop grinding your teeth at night, and more. Let’s get started!
Why is Bruxism Harmful?
If your teeth grinding is severe and frequent, it can invite many harmful complications. The pressure it puts on your jaw muscles and tissues can result in jaw pain, sore gums, popping of jaw joints, tooth loss, and TMJ disorder. Another cause of worry is that bruxism affects the younger generation more than, the older one. The lowest rate of bruxism is in people aged over 65 years.
Moreover, many kids suffer from grinding teeth and jaw clenching. A study was conducted to determine the prevalence of childhood bruxism. 38% of parents of children under 17 confirmed that their kids grind their teeth.
What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
Following are the most common symptoms of bruxism or teeth grinding:
- Worn-down teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity and pain
- Tooth loss
- Broken/fractured/chipped tooth
- Damaged filling
- Pain in face, jaw, & neck
- Tired or locked jaw
- Pain in TMJ leading to TMJ disorder
- Damaged inner cheeks from chewing
- Disrupted sleep
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Bruxism?
If you are suffering from sleep bruxism which leads to grinding teeth while sleeping, you can come across the following symptoms:-
- Grinding your teeth at night
- Damaged teeth
- Pain in neck and jaw
- Inconsistent episodes of teeth clenching in some nights
- Your partner waking up with clenching and grinding sound of teeth
- Morning headaches
What Causes Bruxism?
The answer to the question of what makes you grind your teeth is not straightforward. Different people have different triggers of bruxism. Check out the following leading causes of bruxism. Does any of them ring a bell to you?
- Stress & Anxiety – It is one of the most common causes of bruxism, especially sleep bruxism. Patients under stress often don’t realize that they are grinding teeth.
- Age – Generally, young children get affected by bruxism. It is not always severe and can go away on its own with age.
- Medication & Drugs – Psychiatric medicines like antidepressants can cause teeth grinding as a side effect. Recreational drugs also lead to bruxism.
- Poor Lifestyle Choices – Smoking tobacco, overconsumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages can also make you grind your teeth.
- Family History – Family history is also one of the leading causes of bruxism. If your parents or any other family member has a history of bruxism, there are chances of you getting it too.
- Medical Disorders – Bruxism can also result from mental health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
When to See a Doctor?
If you notice any or multiple symptoms described in this article, visit your dentist to check you for bruxism. Especially don’t ignore the damaged teeth and facial pain. Your teeth might need treatment from the wear and tear of grinding. Your partner can also tell you if you make any grinding sounds in sleep. Also, watch out for risk factors like stress, medical disorder, family history, etc.
How is Bruxism Diagnosed?
Any of the following routes can be taken by your doctor to diagnose and detect the issue of teeth grinding:
If you have prominent and clear symptoms of teeth grinding, the doctors or dentists can right away start the treatment for bruxism.
Determining the Causes/Risk Factors
If you have any risk factors that cause teeth grinding, such as stress or anxiety combined with bruxism symptoms, the dentist may start evaluating your chances of teeth grinding.
An overnight sleep study in a sleep clinic can be performed on you to diagnose sleep bruxism. This study is known as polysomnography, and the sleep medicine specialist does it. It is the most conclusive way to detect bruxism and other sleep disorders as well.
What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth? (Treatment Options)
Doctors also don’t know how to stop bruxism entirely. But there are approaches that gradually decrease its intensity and limit the damage. They are as follows:
You can use a night guard covering your upper and lower teeth to protect against the possible damage of teeth grinding. They are available on the counter. And you also can get them custom-made if you want.
Stress Reduction Techniques
If stress is causing bruxism, the doctor will suggest some stress reduction techniques. You can’t completely eliminate stress and anxiety. But you can reduce your exposure to stressful situations and your negative response towards them through therapy.
Some drugs can alter the brain chemically and reduce muscle activity. It helps to stop grinding teeth. Botox injections also help in stopping grinding teeth while asleep and awake. Remember to discuss the possible side effects of these medications with your doctor before taking them.
To know more in detail about how to stop grinding teeth, Read our blog on 3 Types of Effective Bruxism Treatment to Stop Teeth Grinding
What are the Home Remedies to Stop Clenching Teeth?
- Avoid alcohol and smoking as much as you can. It will be best if you can stop it entirely.
- Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks.
- Don’t attempt to chew on anything complicated for example, don’t try to crack a nut with your teeth.
- Strive to be mentally strong to control your urge of jaw clenching & teeth grinding.
- Keep your jaw muscles as relaxed as possible.
Do Children Grind Teeth?
Grinding teeth is common in kids. It happens when they are growing baby teeth and also while they start to get permanent teeth. There are fair chances that their teeth grinding habit will disappear once all their adult or permanent teeth have fully erupted. But in any case it is better to get their dental check-up done.
What are the Specific Ways to Stop Bruxism in Children?
- Work on decreasing your kid’s stress levels.
- Take your kids for a timely dental check-up.
- Ask your dentist for treatment of kids for teeth grinding. According to the age of your kids and the severity of the disorder, the dentist may prescribe crowns or night guards.
- Dehydration is also linked to teeth grinding sometimes. So ensure your children drink plenty of water.
- Teach them jaw massage and jaw stretching exercises to relax their muscles.
Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. Dr. Isaac strives for quality on a daily basis and this commitment to quality is reflected in her constant pursuit of advanced training. Her firm belief that even experts need to stay updated about what’s new in the dental field, enables her to provide every patient with optimal oral care. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental community with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and latest treatment modalities.