Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding is an oral parafunctional activity, which means that it is not related to the normal functions of the mouth such as eating or talking. Bruxism is a very common problem and causes tooth damage, chipping or can even break teeth and dental fixations such as crowns and fillings.
Research has established that bruxism is found more often in those individuals who have existing sleep disorders for example snoring and breathing pauses during sleep.
Demographic and Lifestyle Factors
Demographic and lifestyle factors such as young age, smoking, caffeine intake and alcohol consumption are associated with bruxism. The use of substances such as tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, or medications for sleep, depression or even anxiety leads to Bruxism.
Stress, Anxiety & other Psychological Components
Mental disorders, anxiety, stress and other psychosocial factors are considerably related to bruxism during sleep and it has been established that nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of stress or anxiety.
Treatment for bruxism is about repairing the damage to teeth that has already occurred and preventing future damage.
Splints and mouth guards
These are designed to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused to them by constant clenching and grinding. They can be constructed of hard or soft materials and fit over the upper or lower teeth.
Dentists aim to correct the teeth that aren’t properly aligned because of constant teeth grinding.
Certain therapies also help reduce bruxism, such as:
- Stress management. If you grind your teeth because of stress and anxiety, you may be able to prevent the problem with counseling or strategies which promote relaxation, for example, exercise or meditation.
- Behavior therapy. Once you’ve established that you suffer from bruxism, you can change this behavior by working on your mouth and jaw position. You can also ask your dentist to show you the best position for your mouth and jaw.
In general, medications aren’t very effective for the treatment of bruxism. However, some do help to a certain degree.
- Muscle relaxants. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before you go to sleep.
- (Botox) injections. Botox injections have helped some people with severe bruxism who didn’t respond to other treatments.