Bruxism is a problem in which you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth. You may clench and grind your teeth during the day. Or, at night while you sleep (sleep bruxism). You may not even realize you have it. Signs and symptoms vary, and can include:
- Abraded teeth
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Facial pain
- Overly sensitive teeth
- Tense facial and jaw muscles
- Dislocation of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- Wearing away of the tooth enamel, exposing the underlying dentin (inside of the tooth)
- A popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- Tongue indentations
- Damage to the inside of the cheek
- Wear facets (flat smooth areas created on the biting surfaces of the teeth as they are rubbed together repeatedly)
The symptoms of bruxism may look like other conditions or health problems. See a dentist for diagnosis and treatment.
What are the types of bruxism?
Bruxism can happen when you’re awake or asleep. The grinding action is the same, but awake and asleep bruxism are considered two separate conditions:
Sleep bruxism: You grind your teeth while asleep with this form, which may cause more harm. You may not get the help you need since you’re unaware it is happening. Another challenge with sleep bruxism is that people don’t realize how strong they’re clenching their jaw and teeth. They can use up to 250 pounds of force, causing jaw pain and teeth problems. Clenching can also lead to headaches.
How is bruxism diagnosed?
During regular dental visits, your dentist will examine your teeth for signs of bruxism such as flattened tips of the teeth. If signs and symptoms are present, your dentist or other healthcare provider will watch the condition over the next few visits before treatment is started.
Treatment for bruxism
In most cases, bruxism can be successfully treated. Treatment may involve:
- Behavior changes. You may be taught how to rest your tongue, teeth, and lips properly. You may also learn how to rest the tongue upward to relieve discomfort on the jaw while keeping the teeth apart and lips closed.
- Mouthguard. You may be fitted for a plastic
mouthguard that you can wear at night to absorb the force of biting. It
can be worn in the day if you grind your teeth while awake. This
mouthguard may help prevent future damage to the teeth and aid in changing
- Physical therapy.
Other ways to cut back on teeth grinding include:
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Avoid or reduce caffeine in foods and drinks such as colas, chocolate and coffee.
- Be aware of teeth clenching during the day. Try to stop yourself: Keep your lips together, teeth apart and tongue behind the front teeth.
- Don’t chew on nonfood items, such as pencils or pens. Also avoid constant, daily gum chewing.
iDent, Idyll Dental Clinic
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