Bruxism is a condition where you grind or clench your teeth.
Bruxism may need attention before permanent damage occurs. If you unconsciously clench your teeth when you’re awake, it’s known as awake bruxism. If you clench or grind your teeth while you’re asleep, this is known as sleep bruxism. Mild bruxism may not require treatment. But if you clench or grind your teeth for long, continuous periods, this can become serious and cause damage. Prolonged bruxism can cause tooth wear and breakage and lead to disorders of the jaw and headaches.
If your condition is mild, you may not be aware that you are grinding your teeth. It might be that a friend or family member notices it first. Or perhaps symptoms of bruxism are noticed by your dentist during a routine appointment. Some signs and symptoms that you may have bruxism include:
- Clenching or grinding your teeth, either awake or asleep
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Tooth loss
- Flattened teeth or worn teeth and enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
- Increased tooth pain or sensitive teeth
- Tired or tight jaw muscles or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely
- Pain or soreness in your jaw, neck, face or ears
- Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
- Disrupted sleep
Generally, your dentist will ask you about your medical history and then thoroughly examine your mouth, teeth, gums, jaw, tongue, throat, sinuses, ears, nose and neck. You may also need an x-ray, depending on what your dentist suspects might be the cause of your problem.
Your dentist will ask you some questions about your teeth and any pain you may have, such as:
- Are you experiencing any pain?
- How severe is the pain?
- Where do you feel the pain?
- What is your normal dental routine?
- What is your diet like?
- What is your lifestyle like?
- Are you experiencing any extra stress?
- Do you suffer from anxiety?
There are a number of reasons bruxism can occur. It’s sometimes caused by excess stress or anxiety. Heightened emotions such as anger, frustration or tension can also trigger it. Teeth grinding may also develop as a coping strategy during periods of concentration. If you have sleep bruxism, it is more likely to be caused by an abnormal bite, missing teeth, or crooked teeth. Or it might be due to a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. There are some risk factors that may increase your chance of developing bruxism. These include:
- Increased stress, anxiety or frustration
- Age–bruxism is common in young children and generally lessens by adulthood
- Personality type – being aggressive, competitive or hyperactive may increase your risk
- Medications – it may be an uncommon side effect of some medications, including some antidepressants.
- Family history – sleep bruxism often occurs in families
- Other disorders – bruxism can be associated with some mental health and medical disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy, night terrors, and sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea.
The price of assessing and treating your bruxism depends on what issues you may have and what is causing the problem. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can be a symptom of something serious, so we recommend that you see a dentist to check it out. Your dentist will be able to diagnose the cause and give you options and an estimate for treatment.
Also known as bruxism, teeth clenching or grinding affects many people. Teeth grinding in young children is common. It often happens at night when new teeth are growing. This type of bruxism generally goes away by adulthood. While bruxism is less common for adults, rest assured that you are not alone and there are ways to manage the condition. Talk to your dentist about what’s happening to you.
It depends on the cause of your problem. If your bruxism is stress-related, your dentist may recommend professional counselling, psychotherapy or other strategies to help you relax. You may receive a prescription muscle relaxant to ease a jaw spasm. Or you may be fitted for a custom-made bite plate. In some cases, your dentist may refer you to your GP or even an oral surgeon.
Managing your teeth clenching or grinding can be done through changes to your lifestyle. Stress management, mindfulness and better sleep routines may help improve mild cases of bruxism. If your bruxism is due to a condition in your mouth or teeth, we recommend you visit your dentist. Keep on top of your oral health by combining good at-home dental care with a great relationship with your dentist.
We recommend daily healthy habits and regular visits to the dentist. For optimum oral health:
- Practice good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day.
- Book hygiene visits with your dental hygienist at least twice each year
- Book routine exams and x-ray visits with your dentist once each year