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Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors & Treatments

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors & Treatments

Did you notice excessive teeth grinding in yourself or your loved ones? If yes, then it might be a case of bruxism. It is a condition in which patients grind or clench their teeth uncontrollably and too often. Untreated bruxism can cause harm to your teeth, jaw muscles, and TMJ. However, it is easily curable through advanced orthodontic treatments and therapies. Read on to gain more information.

Types of Bruxism

  1. Awake BruxismClenching jaw and teeth in the daytime is known as awake bruxism. It generally happens due to some mental pressure, anxiety, or anger.
  2. Sleep Bruxism or Night BruxismClenching and grinding teeth in sleep is known as sleep bruxism. Generally, you are unaware of the clenching and the kind of force you apply to your teeth while asleep. Therefore this is a more severe condition.

Symptoms of Bruxism

It’s possible that you don’t know about your grinding of teeth in your sleep. In that case, you can look for the following symptoms of bruxism:-

  1. Locking, popping, or clicking of the jaw with sound.
  2. Loud enough clinching of teeth to wake you up.
  3. Wear & tear of your teeth.
  4. Disruption in sleep.
  5. Pain in teeth and jaw while eating.
  6. The deeper layer of teeth exposed due to enamel erosion.
  7. Painful, sensitive, and loose teeth.
  8. Fracture in teeth.
  9. Pain in the facial part or headaches in the morning.
  10. TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) disorder.
  11. Pain in the ears.
  12. Pain in the jaw muscles.

Causes of Bruxism

There are different causes of bruxism. Some of the leading causes are as follows:-

  1. Unhealthy Lifestyle HabitTeeth grinding can also be the result of bad lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, and consuming excessive caffeine. These habits adversely disrupt your brain and cardiovascular activities.
  2. Sleep DisordersBrain activity during sleep, like dreaming and sleep disorders, are the culprit in many sleep bruxism cases. Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders causing sleep bruxism.
  3. Emotional TensionEmotional stress like anxiety, tension, anger, and frustration causes both sleep and awake bruxism. Some people are used to teeth grinding when they are trying to concentrate.
  4. MedicationsMedications can also trigger bruxism. One of them is serotonin reuptake inhibitors. It’s an anti-anxiety drug. Other antidepressants like paroxetine and fluoxetine can also lead to teeth grinding.
  5. Stressful State of MindIf you are stressed, anxious, or angry most of the time, you are at risk of grinding teeth in night or day.
  6. Young ChildrenBruxism is common in kids. 2 or 3 kids in every 10 kids suffer from teeth grinding. Usually, this condition goes away when your kids grow up. But you should take them to your dentist if you notice any symptoms.
  7. Personality TypeHyperactive, aggressive, and competitive individuals are more likely to get bruxism. This is because emotional tension is one of its triggers.
  8. Medication, Drugs, & Substance AbuseIf you are addicted to recreational drugs, smoking, and drinking alcohol, you are at a high risk of getting bruxism. Taking antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications also increases your risk.
  9. Family HistoryIf anyone in your family has a history of teeth grinding or clenching jaw, you are more likely to get it. Bruxism is often passed on in inheritance.
  10. Mental DisordersMental disorders like dementia, reflux disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsycan lead to grinding teeth in sleep.

Diagnosis of Bruxism

Bruxism can be diagnosed based on your symptoms and physical assessment. However, sometimes, your healthcare professional might suggest a sleep study to reach a definitive conclusion. It is done in a sleep center with the help of advanced equipment.

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Treatment of Bruxism

  1. BracesIf your teeth grinding is due to malocclusion, bracesare a time-tested way to treat it. Braces apply gradual pressure on misaligned teeth to correct their position.
  2. InvisalignInvisalign does the same job as traditional braces, but they are virtually invisible to others. These are a set of custom-made,clear aligners which need to be changed every few weeks.
  3. NightguardHyperactive, aggressive, and competitive individuals are more likely to get bruxism. This is because emotional tension is one of its triggers.

Following are some other therapies that work as bruxism treatment:-

  1. Stress ManagementIf stress is your reason for teeth grinding, you might get relief from managing your stress levels. It’s impossible to eliminate stress. But your negative response towards a stressful situation can be managed.
  2. MedicationClenching jaw and teeth can be controlled up to a certain extent with medications. These drugs help in reducing muscle activity. Botox is also used as a medication for severe cases of bruxism.

Bottom Line

Orthodontic and other advanced treatments either cure teeth grinding or help in minimizing its symptoms. In modern science, there are various approaches to treat issues like bruxism depending on its root cause. Therefore, you should seek medical attention as soon as you suspect bruxism.

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Dr. Satish Pai

Dr. Satish Pai – an Ivy League trained dentist and a faculty at Columbia University, believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great while boosting confidence.  As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics, he is dedicated to not only creating perfect smiles for his patients but also educating people with his engaging articles about all things related to a perfect smile and oral health. Spending time with his family always brings a smile on his face. 

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