Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, and people of all ages can be affected. Because it most commonly occurs while sleeping, many people are not aware they have this habit. However, it can lead to serious dental issues if left untreated.
Bruxism can cause substantial wear and flattening of the teeth, which increases the risk of broken teeth, cracks, chips, fillings and even tooth loss. Increased teeth sensitivity is a common complaint for people with bruxism.
Tension, pain and a feeling of ‘tiredness’ or stiffness in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles are all common symptoms. The pain can feel similar to earache, even though your ear is not affected. Sufferers can also be prone to headaches and neckaches caused by the extra tension in their jaw.
As bruxism typically occurs at night, for some people this is an intrusive habit that can seriously affect the quality of sleep for yourself and loved ones and impact on relationships.
Causes of Bruxism
In most cases grinding or clenching your teeth is a habit, whether you are consciously aware of it or not. However, it is often exacerbated by stress and anxiety.
Having a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea can make you more likely to grind your teeth while you sleep.
Other causes include having an abnormal bite, or missing or crooked teeth. Lifestyle factors such as alcohol, smoking, a high caffeine intake and taking recreational drugs can all make you more prone to bruxism. Teeth grinding can also be a side effect of some types of medications.
Treatment for Bruxism
It is important to seek treatment for bruxism for the long-term health of your teeth. Although some people don’t experience any symptoms and may not even be aware they have this condition, your dentist will be able to diagnose it and recommend treatment options which may include:
- A custom-made nightguard, also known as a splint, to wear while sleeping. Unlike sports mouthguards, these are thinner and more comfortable to wear overnight while providing protection for your teeth from the pressure of grinding or clenching.
- Botox can be an effective way to stop the jaw muscles from clenching, without impacting on your ability to eat, chew and talk.
- Physical exercises including massage to relieve jaw tension.
- Techniques and exercises to help reduce stress.
- Avoiding chewing gum, as it can contribute to your jaw tightening up.
Please contact us if you are experiencing any symptoms of bruxism – we can assess your needs and recommend specific treatment options.