When building a foundation for a healthy body, people traditionally focus on exercise, nutritious foods and the occasional doctor visit. Although mouth 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 malady that shouldn't go untreated.
Is it common for you to wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or a headache? Do you at times clench your teeth? Until you have a dental examination or experience pain, you may not know that you are a victim of a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism is the clenching, gritting or grinding of teeth. Many individuals do not know that they clench their teeth as they mainly do it when asleep. Bruxism usually takes place during the early hours of the night and can result to irregular sleep patterns. In some people grinding and clenching can be fairly audible, while other people tend not to make any sound hence they do not know that they suffer from teeth grinding until they are told by a dentist. Apart from causing discomfort, bruxism can destroy dental restorations.
Signs and Symptoms
Bruxism has many symptoms that are similar to those of other conditions. Consult your dentist if you're 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 isn't known for certain what gives way to 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 apnea can play a role in developing sleep bruxism. Sleep apnea 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 a person may grind their teeth as a coping method. The latter is the big one. Although professional counseling can make it easier for you to deal with stress, 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 similarly helpful. Work-related issues are frequently to blame, 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 grinding. Something as simple as braces or as extreme as jaw reconstruction are potential fixes, but always discuss this treatment with your dentist to ensure you take the right course of action to correct any malocclusions.
Substance-based habits such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption and even too much caffeine can increase your 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're teenagers.
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 dental professional may want to perform a full examination to confirm any symptoms or signs for sure, and then determine the reasons they have occurred. In the interim, he or she 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't undertaken them.
As always, oral care starts at home.