Updated: Aug 10, 2021
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is more commonly known as 'teeth-grinding'. It is a habit which affects approximately one in ten people of all ages. Most teeth-grinding happens during sleep and can range from mild to severe. Sometimes it is only short-term, and thus relatively harmless. However, persistent teeth grinding, especially at night, can cause serious dental and jaw joint damage. It can also cause headaches, jaw muscle pain, and other health problems.
What causes bruxism?
There are many reasons why people grind or clench their jaws. It can affect people of all ages, including children. Some common reasons for grinding include:
increased stress and/or anxiety
uneven or misaligned teeth
teething in children and infants
sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnoea
medications such as antipsychotics and antidepressants
excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use and gum chewing
recreational drug use
medical conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease
trauma or injury to the jaw.
It is important to understand the cause of your bruxism to get effective treatment.
Symptoms of bruxism
The most common time people grind their teeth is during sleep, so you may not notice it yourself. In fact, other people may notice it before you do. However, here are a few common symptoms:
Aches/pains in your teeth, jaws, ears, head and/or face when you wake up
Stiff shoulders, tight jaw muscles, enlarged jaw muscles
Difficulty opening your mouth wide when eating or speaking
Cracking or popping when your jaw moves
Worn down teeth, abnormal tooth wear, loose teeth, teeth fractures
Damage to fillings and other dental restorations
What can I do about it?
First, consult your dentist to understand what is causing the bruxism habit. They need to assess your facial muscles for fatigue, and your teeth for signs of wear or damage. Different causes require different treatments, but here are a few ways bruxism can be managed:
Straightening of teeth
Prosthodontic treatments such as crowns and/or veneers
Lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking
Referring to counselling services for cognitive behavioural therapy
Bruxism mouthguard to wear at night
Muscle relaxant injections
If you believe this might be something you are suffering from, please call us and make an appointment so we can help you diagnose the causes and recommend appropriate treatment plans. Early diagnosis and treatment will prevent serious irreversible damage to your teeth and jaw joints.