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Grinding and Clenching – Bruxism

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching (bruxism).

Do you suffer from jaw pain?  You could be suffering from Bruxism. This is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench/grind your teeth when you’re awake (awake bruxism) or clench/grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism).

Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnoea).

Symptoms

Physical Symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort and muscle aches
  • Facial myalgia -aching jaw & facial pain
  • Earache
  • Tightness and stiffness of the shoulders
  • Limitation of mouth opening and sleep disruption of the individual as well as the bed partner

Oral Symptoms:

  • Abnormal tooth wear
  • Fracture of the teeth, broken fillings & crowns
  • Inflammation and recession of the gums
  • Excess tooth mobility
  • Premature loss of teeth
  • Short-term effects of Bruxism

Long-term effects of Bruxism

  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (sometimes called TMJD or just TMJ)
  • Tooth wear & breakage

Risk factors

These factors increase your risk of bruxism:

Stress: Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding. So can anger and frustration.

Age: Bruxism is common in young children, but it usually goes away by adulthood.

Personality type: Having a personality type that’s aggressive, competitive or hyperactive can increase your risk of bruxism.

Medications and other substances: Bruxism may be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications, such as certain antidepressants. Smoking tobacco, drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol, or using recreational drugs may increase the risk of bruxism.

Family members with bruxism: Sleep bruxism tends to occur in families. If you have bruxism, other members of your family also may have bruxism or a history of it.

Other disorders: Bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnoea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What can you do?

Behavioural Approaches

Hypnosis, progressive relaxation, meditation & self-monitoring.

Nightguards

Nightguard is a generic term often used to describe a device worn on the teeth at night to protect them from grinding and clenching. There are many types of Nightguard appliances available.

Soft Nightguard

The most commonly prescribed splint for bruxism and TMD, The soft guard will protect the teeth by separating and preventing them from coming into contact. These are for mild or occasional cases, not for severe teeth grinders.