- Tenderness in your jaw muscles
- Obvious dental abnormalities, such as evenly worn, broken or missing teeth
- Can be identified by doctor or dentist
- Managed through range of treatment options
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is grinding, gnashing or clenching of the teeth, that is not part of the normal chewing movements. It is usually involuntary and can occur nocturnally or when the sufferer is awake. People who grind their teeth, particularly at night, may not be aware they are doing it. A partner may hear the grinding noise, leading the sufferer to seek a diagnosis or signs of wear and tear that may be spotted by a dentist during a checkup.
What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
The signs and symptoms of bruxism can include the following:
- Wear and damage to teeth and fillings
- Tooth sensitivity
- Jaw pain and stiffness – this will be most noticeable in the morning for sleep ‘bruxers’
- Clicking of the temporomandibular joint
- Indentations in the teeth and tongue
- Poor quality sleep for the sufferer and/or partner
- Growth of bony protuberances known as torus mandibularus
- In childhood bruxism, sleep disruption can manifest as behavioural problems
What causes Bruxism?
A combination of physical and psychological factors is believed to contribute to bruxism, including:
- Physical stress such as illness, nutritional deficiencies or dehydration, particularly in children
- psychological stress, anxiety and tension in adults and children
- studies have shown that night bruxism is a sleep disorder and may be related to sleep apnoea or alpha-wave intrusion (otherwise known as busy brain).
- other abnormal anatomy of the teeth or jaws (including “high spots” on fillings) that can cause an improper occlusion (also called ‘bite’) and lead to bruxism behaviour.
How can bruxism be treated?
Talk with your doctor to find out which option may work best for you.
Your doctor may suggest ways to preserve or improve your teeth. Although these methods may prevent or correct the wear to your teeth, they may not stop the bruxism:
- Splints and mouth guards. These are designed to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding. They can be constructed of hard acrylic or soft materials and fit over your upper or lower teeth.
- Dental correction. In severe cases — when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly — your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns to repair the damage.
One or more of these approaches may help relieve bruxism:
- Stress or anxiety management. If you grind your teeth because of stress, you may be able to prevent the problem by learning strategies that promote relaxation, such as meditation. If the bruxism is related to anxiety, a Home Sleep Test may identify the cause.
- Behavior change. Once you discover that you have bruxism, you may be able to change the behavior by practicing proper mouth and jaw position.
- Biofeedback. If you’re having a hard time changing your habits, you may benefit from biofeedback, a method that uses monitoring procedures and equipment to teach you to control muscle activity in your jaw.
Newer medications have shown reduction in bruxism, however Traditional medications aren’t very effective for treatment of bruxism. Examples of medications that may be used for bruxism include:
- CBD oil. We have had huge success with patients using this to stop teeth grinding. Ask your GP or book with our Sleep Specialist to discuss this treatment.
- Muscle relaxants. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime, for a short period of time.
- Botox injections. Injections of Botox, a form of botulinum toxin, may help some people with severe bruxism who don’t respond to other treatments.
Treating associated disorders
Treatment for associated disorders may include:
- Medications. If you develop bruxism as a side effect of a drug, your doctor may change your medication or prescribe a different one.
- Sleep-related disorders. Addressing sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea may improve sleep bruxism.
- Medical conditions. If an underlying medical condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is identified as the cause, treating this condition may improve bruxism.
What to do next…
Consult with a Sleep Physician to discuss and work out a treatment plan.