The term "bruxism" refers to tooth grinding and tooth clenching that many children and adults experience throughout their lifetime. Bruxism occurs when the teeth contact each other in a forceful fashion, this can be silent or cause a loud sound especially when sleeping.
Many medical and dental professionals may not always know the exact cause, but bruxism can occur due to psychological stress that people may be dealing with during the week. Stress can be categorized in two ways — by internal and external factors.
Internal factors could be the foods you consume, your level of fitness, your emotional stability, overall health and well-being, and the amount of sleep you get each evening. External factors of psychological stress include the environment you are in each day, interaction with others, when you are at home and how you deal with challenges on a daily basis.
There are several elements that can occur in the mouth when people are experiencing bruxism:
- Wearing away the tooth enamel and possibly the dentin
- Cracking or chipping teeth, bridgework or implants
- Tooth sensitivity can occur
- Teeth can become painful or loose
- Facial pain due to clenching of jaw muscles
- Overall facial fatigue
- Pain in the temporomandibular joint (jaw bone on either side of the mouth)
Most individuals suffering from bruxism should see their dental professional/specialist to determine why they are experiencing this problem. Your dental professional may recommend that you wear a mouth guard or a night guard to cushion the clenching or tooth grinding during sleeping. Additionally, your dental professional may suggest ways to reduce stress so you can decrease the level of bruxism. You should consider avoiding foods such as chocolate and drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol. Avoid chewing forcefully and your dentist or oral maxillofacial surgeon may suggest conducting exercises to relax your jaw muscles during the day. If your bruxism is more severe, an occlusal splint may be recommended as well as medication prescribed to help relax you or make you sleep more soundly. Your dental professional will be able to work with you to find the cause and the solution to alleviate this problem.
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