Have you ever been told that you grind your teeth at night? Do you wake up with a sore jaw or a headache? Are your teeth worn down, feel loose, chipped, or even broken? If so, you might have bruxism. Bruxism comes from the Greek word “brychein” for “gnashing of the teeth.” Despite numerous case reports, most individuals are unaware that they have this condition until they’re told by their loved ones. While teeth grinding has been known to be caused by stress and anxiety, it can also be caused by sleep breathing disorders.
Chronic teeth grinding has been known to result in fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth, which can end up changing the appearance of your face. By grinding the teeth together, the outer layers of the enamel tend to wear away, and this can result in tooth sensitivity. Since teeth grinding usually occurs during sleep, it can lead to further sleep-related issues
There are various symptoms of bruxism, but we are going to highlight the very common ones;
• Pain and swelling in the jaw
• Broken or chipped teeth, crowns or fillings
• Changes in the shape of teeth
• Long lasting pain in the face
• A dull morning headache
Once you have noticed any of these signs, it is recommended that you pay a visit to an orofacial pain specialist who will check for signs of bruxism and look for changes in your teeth and mouth over subsequent visits.
Bruxism is noted to generally stop on its own in children who experience it at early ages once they make it to the age of 13. For adults and teenagers, however, the duration of bruxism is known to depend on its cause.
Treatment and prevention
Depending on the root cause of the disorder, a proper treatment program can be formulated.
• Stress management: for those whose bruxism is as a result of stress, finding ways to properly manage the stress is the only way out.
• Avoiding alcohol: grinding has been noted to intensify after alcohol consumption.
• Avoid Caffeine: foods and drinks that are known to contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, coffees etc. worsen symptoms.
• Turn up the heat: Warm baths, warm compresses, and facial massages are known to help alleviate jaw tension.
• Protection: The use of mouth guards and mouth splints have also been noted to be of help. However, this is not a cure, but merely a form of protection for the teeth.
• Possible referral for a sleep study if indicated
Bruxism is gradually becoming a major issue and the lack of awareness makes it more dangerous. It is therefore advised that people who at one time or the other had bruxism related symptoms should try to have their teeth checked for proper treatment.