What is Bruxism? Is this habit harmful? How can it treated?

Bruxism is grinding or gnashing the teeth in the opposing rows of upper and lower jaws. People can clench and grind without being aware of it during both the day and night, although sleep-related bruxism is often the bigger problem because it is harder to control. 

Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders. Eventually, bruxism damages the occlusal surfaces of the teeth, particularly the molar teeth and may lead to myofascial muscle pain, temporomandibular joint dysfunction and headache. In severe, chronic cases, it can lead to arthritis of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ).

Some estimates suggest that 15 to 33% of children grind their teeth. This usually happens after they develop their first teeth and again after they develop their permanent teeth. The habit usually stops when their adult teeth are fully formed.

What are the symptoms of Bruxism?

A symptom is something the patient senses and describes.

Grinding can wear down the teeth. Grinding can also be noisy enough at night to bother sleeping partners. 
Other key symptoms include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, headache, sensitivity in the teeth and insomnia. 
Earache due in part because the structures of the temporomandibular joint are very close to the ear canal, and because one can feel pain in a different location than its source is also common. This is called referred pain.

 How different between Bruxism and Healthy Teeth

What are the causes of Bruxism?

Each person is different. Whether or not bruxism causes pain and other problems may be a complicated mix of factors including posture, ability to relax, diet and sleeping habits. 
Bruxism can also be related to an abnormal bite. This is when there is a problem with your top and bottom teeth coming together which is called an occlusal discrepancy. Having teeth that are missing or crooked can also prompt you to grind your teeth. 
Bruxism can occur as a side effect of taking certain medications. These include some psychotropic drugs as antidepressants and antipsychotics.

What are the treatment options for Bruxism?

Treatment for Bruxism depends on the cause of this condition:

  • - To treat Bruxism caused by stress, you should start a case-specific stress management program and then re-assess the situation. This could involve getting enough sleep at night or getting regular exercise. 
  • - If Bruxism is brought on by misalignment of the jaw or by crooked and uneven teeth, one should consider a dental solution to treat it. A dentist or orthodontist at Tu Xuong Dental Clinic may be able to realign the jaw or fit a person for braces (or invisalign) to treat the condition. 
  • - Avoiding foods and drinks that contain high concentrations of caffeine or alcohol is recommended as these can enhance grinding. Also, one should avoid any unnecessary chewing. Stay away from things like chewing gum as it embeds clenching and grinding into your muscle memory. To treat bruxism, try to relax jaw muscles with a warm washcloth or a heating pad at least once a day to ease their tension.

Basically, stress reduction and anxiety management may reduce bruxism in people prone to the condition.

Source from Kraft (B.A.)