In essence, bruxism is a condition where patients grind, gnash, and clench their teeth unconsciously while awake (awake bruxism) or during sleep (sleep bruxism). The latter is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. In other words, those who grind or clench their teeth during sleep are more likely to have sleep disorders like sleep apnea or snoring.
Mild cases of the condition may not require bruxism treatment. However, when the condition is severe enough to cause headaches, jaw disorders, damaged teeth, and other health problems, bruxism treatment is required.
Most people who have sleep bruxism are not aware they have the condition until red flags manifest and complications develop. That being said, it is important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of the condition so you can seek medical care right away.
Some of the most prevalent signs of bruxism include:
- Teeth clenching and grinding (often loud enough to wake bed partners)
- Increased tooth sensitivity or pain
- Soreness or pain of the neck, jaw, or the face
- Worn enamel (sometimes severe enough that the deeper layers of the tooth are exposed)
- Chipped, flattened, fractured, or loose teeth
- Dull headaches that originate in the temples
- Sleep disruption
- Tight or tired jaw muscles
- Pain that resembles an earache (even though you have no problem with your ear)
As mentioned earlier, mild cases of bruxism won’t require any treatment. Mild cases of bruxism in children often goes away without any treatment. Some adults who have the condition on the other hand don’t clench or grind their teeth enough to merit treatment.
However, if the problem is severe, treatment is required. Fortunately, nowadays, there are several bruxism treatment options available at one’s disposal. Some of the treatment options include therapies, medications, and dental approaches. As a general rule of thumb, consider it best to check with your dentist to find out the best treatment option for your case.
Your dentist can recommend various ways to preserve or improve the condition for those with bruxism. Some of the possible recommendations can include:
- Mouth guards and splints. These devices are designed to keep the teeth separated. Primarily, they are used to prevent teeth damage brought about by grinding and clenching. Mouth guards and splints can be made of soft materials or hard acrylic and are fitted over the lower or upper teeth.
- Dental correction. In really severe cases where wear of the tooth has led to the patient’s inability to chew property or to sensitivity, the chewing surfaces may be reshaped. Crowns may also be used to repair the damage.
- Anxiety or stress management. If the condition is caused by stress, strategies that promote relaxation (yoga, meditation, etc.) may be recommended. If the bruxism is anxiety-related, help from a counselor or licensed therapist may be needed.
- Behavior change. Change in behaviour may be recommended for those who have bruxism. In line with this, they will be asked to practice correct jaw and mouth position. Your dentist will be able to show you what the best position for the jaw and mouth are.
- Those who are having a hard time changing their habits may benefit from biofeedback. Biofeedback is a method that makes use of equipment and monitoring procedures to teach patients to control muscle activity in their jaw.