Is Bruxism Impacting Your Oral Health?

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Unless you work in the dental profession, the odds are good that you don’t know what bruxism means. But if you suffer from the problem, you definitely know you have it and probably wish you could find effective treatment.

So what is bruxism? Simply put, it is teeth grinding. A little of it won’t hurt your oral health and is fairly common. But if you are someone who constantly grinds their teeth (primarily at night when you are asleep), you can wear your health down in multiple ways. Because most people grind when they are not awake, it generally isn’t obvious what dental issue is being created by their problem.

But once you get some insight into what causes bruxism and how to prevent it, you can begin to work with your dentist to address the issue and improve your oral health (and overall health).

So What Exactly is Bruxism?

In short, bruxism is a condition characterized by the clenching or grinding of teeth. When it affects you at night, it is called sleep bruxism. However, you may also suffer from this condition during the day when you are wide awake. Symptoms may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching (often loud enough to wake others)
  • Teeth that are chipped, fractured, flattened or loose
  • Sensitivity of the teeth
  • Tightness or soreness in the jaw or face
  • A dull earache or headache
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

What Causes Bruxism?

Medical science hasn’t quite figured out the exact cause of bruxism. Often health professionals find it extremely difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for bruxism.

However, a number of physical and psychological causes have been strongly linked to bruxism:

  • Emotions – Anxiety, anger, stress or frustration are all triggers of bruxism.
  • Concentrating on a Task – Some people grind or clench their teeth to reduce pressure or help them concentrate. Often the person is unaware they are doing this.
  • Malocclusion – Poor teeth alignment (malocclusion) may develop bruxism.
  • Sleep Apnea – This condition can exacerbate bruxism.
  • Additional Complications – Specific psychiatric medications, complications from other medical disorders, and even acid reflux can exacerbate teeth grinding.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Don’t panic if you suffer from bruxism. Often people grow out of the disorder, while others suffer a minimal form of the condition and don’t need treatment. But if you do need treatment, there are a range of options to choose from:

  • Dental Approaches – A visit to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can give you access to splints and mouth guards to prevent damage to your teeth. Of course, you can also consult your dentist to determine if misalignment is causing your problems and, if it is, you can determine an appropriate treatment solution.
  • Therapies – For bruxism due to psychological factors, stress management, behavior therapy, and/or biofeedback may help address the underlying cause and eliminate teeth grinding in the process.
  • Medications – Medications aren't a common treatment for bruxism but in some extreme cases, doctors will prescribe muscle relaxants or Botox injections to relax the muscles and prevent grinding.

By better understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments of bruxism, you can ensure that you find the relief you need, protect your smile from damage, and rest easy knowing that grinding isn't wearing down your health.

Sources: MayoClinic.org, WebMD.com

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