Bruxism: What is it and how does it affect me?

Teeth grinding, or ‘Bruxism’ is a very common dental problem that some people may suffer from. Most of us grind our teeth occasionally, but Bruxism specifically refers to continual and frequent grinding, commonly causing pain, sensitivity or stiffness in the jaw. Some people who struggle with Bruxism grind their teeth in their sleep, while others do it throughout the day, sometimes without even noticing. Teeth grinding can have a negative long-term effect on the appearance and health of your teeth and jaw.

Pain in the mouth whilst sleeping

Other than chewing or swallowing, there should be minimal space between where your top and bottom teeth meet, but for some, the misalignment of teeth could be the main reason for more frequent and severe teeth grinding. Though it can affect children, Bruxism is most commonly seen in adults aged 25-44. Teeth grinding may not seem like a dire orthodontic problem, but when it develops into Bruxism, it can cause extreme amounts of physical pain and discomfort.

What are the risks?

Short-term symptoms and side effects include:

  • Sensitive teeth and toothaches
  • Inflamed and receding gums
  • Earaches and headaches
  • Stiff muscles in your face, neck or shoulders due to strained jaw muscles
  • Trouble sleeping and obstructive sleep

Long-term effects include:

  • Extreme wear and damage to tooth enamel or whole teeth
  • Tooth wear, including broken and cracked teeth
  • A significant change in your bite, affecting how you eat
  • Changes to the shape of your face, due to severely worn-down teeth and/or an altered bite
  • Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) dysfunction, causing severe jaw pain
Pain in the jaw

What can cause teeth grinding and Bruxism?

  • Stress and anxiety. For many of us, stress can commonly be present in different areas of our lives. The difficulty comes in when stress becomes more severe and hard to control. If you are someone who struggles with a high amount of stress and anxiety, you are more likely to fall victim to teeth grinding. Similar to other repetitive behaviour such as biting your nails, or picking and scratching the skin, teeth grinding can also be a direct response to severe amounts of stress and anxiety.
  • Missing or misaligned teeth can also cause repetitive teeth grinding. This is why having regular check-ups with your dentist can help correct any dental issues you might have, whilst also helping to prevent more serious issues arising in the future. Catching certain dental problems sooner rather than later can save you a lot of time, money and added stress.
  • Medications such as certain antidepressants can also cause teeth grinding. This is most commonly seen in SSRI antidepressants such as paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline.
  • Sleep disorders can be a direct response to teeth grinding and sleep bruxism. Common disorders include sleep apnea or sleep paralysis, which can massively impact your energy levels and can also, in turn, worsen your stress and anxiety levels.
  • Certain medical conditions can also impact the severity of teeth grinding, particularly conditions such as Dementia, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and reflux.
  • Alcohol, Caffeine and Tobacco have been shown to contribute to Bruxism. Research shows that people who are frequent coffee drinkers, regularly smoke or drink alcohol are twice more likely to grind their teeth or clench their jaw when sleeping. This in turn can then cause Bruxism, which could create more serious problems.
  • Genetics can also increase your chances of developing Bruxism. If you do have someone in the family who struggles with teeth grinding or bruxism, you must be extra mindful of your own teeth and mouth, ensuring that you can catch any issues before they become a more severe problem. This is where regular check-ups are an extreme necessity to ensure your oral health is in check.

How can I help to reduce teeth grinding and clenching?

As there is no cure for teeth grinding and Bruxism, it can seem frustrating and difficult to figure out how to help yourself. But there are some little steps you can take to help reduce teeth grinding and the effects of Bruxism.

  • Managing stress is an extremely important part of reducing teeth grinding and clenching. By spending time on muscle relaxation, taking time for yourself and finding ways to sleep better you could experience a lesser degree of stress and teeth grinding. There are many resources online to help support and provide relaxation techniques to help
  • Treating any medical conditions can help with Bruxism, as there could be something causing your Bruxism or making it worse. Our oral health is just as important as our physical health, and at times it can be directly linked.
  • Trying a different medication could also help improve your Bruxism. Though changing your medication be a little bit of an adjustment and you might need to try a few others out, it is definitely worth the time investment in the long run.
  • Wearing a dental mouth guard at night is one of the best practical ways to help Bruxism. As teeth grinding cannot be controlled during sleep, mouthguards are designed to protect your teeth, helping to reduce the effects of teeth grinding.
  • Stopping/cutting down on alcohol, smoking or recreational drugs is definitely a must. As research shows how these behaviours and substances directly link to Bruxism, trying to reduce and manage your intake is extremely important. This will help reduce teeth grinding and in turn, help to ease the pain and sensitivity of your teeth.
  • Consultation with a dentist

How can Harley street help with Bruxism?

There is no cure for teeth grinding, but there are things that can help with minimizing the effects of Bruxism. Our team of skilled professionals are trained to spot many different dental problems and conditions. We will be able to provide advice, diagnosis or treatment options suited to you by ensuring you have regular check-ups we can help you monitor the effects of teeth grinding and can help you deal with Bruxism.

Our Orthodontists may also advise using a mouthguard to be worn while you sleep, which could help to prevent excessive teeth grinding throughout the night and in high-stress times. We will also be able to advise on the best ways to deal with pain and sensitivity caused by teeth grinding. Bruxism, at its worst, can be a very tiring and painful condition, and we want to help our patients find both mental and physical relief where possible. For more serious dental problems and needs such as repairing damaged teeth and gums, teeth misalignment, or dental implants, our Orthodontists can help create the best treatment plan suited for you and your oral health. Correcting dental abnormalities can help to deal with the effects of Bruxism both now and in the future. Our skilled team will be able to suggest which options are best for you and your teeth. Book a consultation with us today to see what we can do for you.

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