If you’re one of those people who experience teeth grinding and clenching jaws in sleep, you know that it can wreak havoc on your entire day. As if the symptoms are not unpleasant enough, if left untreated for a long period, Bruxism can lead to permanent teeth damage and other oral health complications.
In the course of this article, you will be exposed to the concept of Bruxism, its various causes, and effective ways to get rid of it.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a common sleep disorder that occurs when your jaw repeatedly moves against one of your molars or premolar teeth. It is an involuntary movement or series of movements of the jaw and other cranial muscles resulting from teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Most commonly, people who experience sleep Bruxism are unaware that they are doing so and may not be aware that it causes any problems in their lives.
Some people are more prone to Bruxism than others. Some people also brux when they’re awake, but it is not as severe as when they are asleep. Grinding your teeth in your sleep can be uncomfortable for both you and those around you who may hear you when you are doing so.
While Bruxism is usually harmless, this condition can recur over time, causing pain, tooth wear, and gingival inflammation. As such, it can lead to other issues like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), TMJ syndrome, facial pain, and tinnitus.
Causes of Bruxism
Knowing about the cause of someone’s problem can help them decide what steps to take and how their situation will improve. In an effort to help you better understand what Bruxism is and to know why you might be suffering from it, here are some of the recognized causes of Bruxism.
- Stress and anxiety
Many sleep disorders are caused by stress, including Bruxism. Stress causes many bodily functions such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. These increased levels of stress hormones, also known as catecholamines, can cause many physical symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Stress can cause the muscles in your jaw to be more active during sleep; the jaw muscles may become clenched, leading to involuntary teeth grinding.
Scoliosis (the side-to-side deformity of the spine) can also lead to Bruxism. Because the muscles surrounding the upper jaw are attached to the spine, they can tighten and strain at times. Similarly, the jaw muscles can become too tight (or hypertonic), leading to increased resistance when trying to open your mouth, and causing grinding.
- Cervical syndrome
Cervical Syndrome or vertebral subluxation is another cause of Bruxism. It is a painful and uncomfortable condition caused by pressure on the neck, a high frequency of headaches, muscle spasms, and mild depression. The most common cause of the cervical syndrome is head and neck posture, which leads to weight distribution from the head to the shoulders.
This position can lead to a very painful backache, shoulder ache, or pain in the neck that makes some people find themselves grinding their teeth when they sleep at night or try to fall asleep. In this case, the jaw muscle is overactive, pulling the jaw out of place, often causing grinding.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
Alcohol and cigarettes both cause the brain to produce less oxygen. The body compensates by increasing breathing and heart rate, which can aggravate teeth grinding.
Intense alcohol consumption increases a person’s risk of sleep bruxism by a factor of two. The effects of alcohol on Bruxism are amplified. Drinking a glass or two of wine before bed sounds like a nice idea, but alcohol is known to disrupt sleep patterns, so it’s best to avoid it if you’re trying to get a decent night’s rest. So if you’re out drinking or smoking too much, then it’s more likely that you’ll grind your teeth while sleeping.
Bruxism in children
Children with Bruxism may clench their jaws, stiffen their jaw muscles, or grind their teeth. It can also refer to sleep-related chewing. Each episode of Bruxism in children typically lasts four seconds and can happen as often as six times an hour.
Symptoms of Bruxism
- Tooth wear of the permanent teeth
- Craniofacial pain
- TMD (Temporomandibular disorders)
- Reduced mouth opening.
Is your kid fretting over anything or harbouring resentment? Those feelings deserve attention if they coincide with nighttime teeth-grinding. Anxiety is not simply a grown-up problem; it can affect kids too. It’s possible that you’ll need to get to the bottom of things by trying different medicines or trying different stress-relieving techniques, such as taking a hot bath or listening to relaxing music before bed.
Your youngster may experience Bruxism at any time of day or night and may complain of ear, cheek, jaw, or neck pain as a result of it.
How to get rid of Bruxism?
A lot of people experience Bruxism every day, and it can be a bothersome condition that does not have an easy fix. But there are some things you could do to learn how to get rid of Bruxism for good and live a healthier, more relaxed life.
- Use a Mouthguard
A mouth guard is a device that fits snugly over your teeth to prevent your upper and lower teeth from coming together when you are asleep. This can be used along with a bite stabilizer. The two devices together will stop you from clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep.
- Try a Bite Stabilizer
A bite stabilizer is a device that goes over your upper and lower teeth at night to prevent clenching and grinding. It looks like a mouth guard and stops you from grinding your teeth by applying pressure on your jaw. It has been shown to be effective in reducing the intensity of Bruxism, especially when used with mouth guards.
- Switch To A Water-Based Mouthwash
Bruxism can cause tooth wear and pain as a result of the increased pressure on your teeth. This is why you want to avoid brushing too hard or using a water-pulsing appliance that causes your teeth to be hit repeatedly with pressure.
You could try switching to a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol because it has been shown to prevent the formation of tartar and reduce tooth sensitivity by reducing tooth wear.
- Avoid Sweet Foods
It is known that Bruxism is linked to stress. Food can also cause you stress if you do not like it or are allergic to it. Sweet foods are high in sugar, and when you eat them in excess, they can cause stomach problems such as bloating, gas, and diarrhoea which may lead to stress. You should avoid eating sweet foods during situations where you feel stressed out or anxious because this can trigger the urge to grind your teeth.
It is known that molars and wisdom teeth may cause pain during the fourth and fifth years of life. Therefore, part of the treatment involves reducing the stress in your life by dealing with problems calmly. You could try meditating, practising yoga, or taking time to relax on a daily basis. This will reduce the pressure that builds up inside your jaw when you are stressed out.
There are a lot of reasons why you grind your teeth in your sleep. Some of the causes have been listed above, but others include:
– Crooked or missing teeth
– Reactional drugs
– Lifestyle habits
Mouthguards and splints are effective because they prevent nighttime teeth grinding by providing a cushioning surface for the teeth. The former can either be manufactured to order at a dental office or bought over the counter.
To stop grinding your teeth in sleep naturally, try one or more of these:
Practice healthy sleeping habits
Visit your dentist regularly
To stop clenching jaws or grinding teeth when sleeping, mouthguards are highly recommended. To use, soak the mouthguard in warm water (not boiling), you can soften it. The mouthguard is then placed in your mouth and pressed against the front teeth and molars using your fingers. You bite down for around 20 seconds when the mouthguard feels like it is in the proper position.
There is currently no permanent way to get rid of Bruxism, but treatment can lessen the severity, frequency, and duration of these episodes, as well as alleviate their associated symptoms. Sleep bruxism can be a nuisance, but it is manageable with the help of several simple home remedies.
There are some symptoms associated with Bruxism. Although they may indicate the onset of Bruxism, they are not only exclusive to Bruxism. So it is best to visit your dentist to be extra sure.
– Teeth that are loose, chipped, cracked, or flattened.
– Worn enamel exposes the tooth’s lower layers.
– Increased sensitivity or pain in the teeth.
– Jaw muscles that are fatigued or tight, or a locked jaw that won’t fully open or close.
– Pain or soreness in the jaw, neck, or face.
– Dull headache with temple pain.
– Interruption of sleep.
However embarrassing Bruxism can be, it isn’t a death sentence and, in most cases, temporary. Just remember a stress-free and healthy life while also maintaining utmost dental hygiene.