When building a foundation for a healthy body, people traditionally focus on exercise, nutritious food and the occasional doctor visit. Although oral health tends to get overlooked in the process, it can make a profound difference on how you feel in other aspects of life. More commonly known as teeth grinding, bruxism is one mouth problem that should not go untreated.
According to The Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society, those who suffer from bruxism typically clench their teeth during the day or grind them at night when they sleep – also known as sleep bruxism. The causes for bruxism are varied, but you can watch for certain symptoms if you think you may have it.
Signs and Symptoms
Bruxism has many symptoms that are similar to those of other conditions. Consult your dentist if you are concerned about:
· Diminished tooth enamel and increased tooth sensitivity.
· Jaw soreness or tight jaw muscles.
· Grinding of the teeth loud enough to wake up your partner.
· Flat, loose or chipped teeth.
· A headache that begins at your temples.
It is not known for certain the exact reasons for bruxism, but both physical and psychological causes are often linked to teeth-grinding. Sleep issues are some of the most common. Snoring, sleep talking and even a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea, as noted by Journal of Conservative Dentistry's article on Sleep Bruxism, can play a role in developing sleep bruxism. Sleep apnoea is a unique condition that affects the breathing process; be sure to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
Anger, anxiety, frustration and stress are four major reasons for people to grind their teeth as a coping method. Although professional counselling can make it easier to deal with a stressor, there are personal ways to manage it as well. Exercise releases endorphins that provide tremendous stress relief, whereas certain relaxation methods – such as listening to music, taking walks and even a warm bath are equally helpful. Work-related issues are frequently to be blamed, so be mindful of your workplace atmosphere and how you approach the tough aspects of your career.
Bite and alignment issues with the upper or lower jaw are another common cause of bruxism. Something as simple as braces or as extreme as jaw reconstruction are potential causes, but always discuss the treatment with your dentist to ensure the right course of action is taken to correct any mal-occlusions.
Substance-based habits such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption and even too much caffeine can increase the risk of bruxism. Your medical professional can even recommend a friendly form of addiction treatment if need be. Keep in mind that age is also a factor, as bruxism is more common in children before they attain teenage.
Medications and Disorders
Bruxism causes have also been linked to side-effects from psychiatric medications and antidepressants, along with neurological conditions like Huntington's Disease and Parkinson's Disease. Consult your doctor in these cases.
Prevention and Treatment
If you suspect you suffer from bruxism, start listing any symptoms and call attention to them at your next dental appointment. Your dentist may want to perform a full exam to confirm any symptoms or signs for sure, and then determine the reasons for the problem.. In the interim, he may prescribe a mouth guard to relieve any damage already done from grinding, or perform a dental procedure to correct any problems related to tooth alignment. Discussing stress reduction methods is another option if you haven not undertaken them.
As always, oral care starts at home. That means brushing to strengthen enamel that can wear away as a result of this condition.