If you have suffered from bruxism then you’ll know just how uncomfortable it can be and what a negative impact it has on your daily life. For those who don’t know, bruxism is the medical term for grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. Regular, persistent grinding can cause jaw pain and wear down your teeth. It can also give you headaches and earache. Unfortunately it is often something you are not even aware of as it occurs subconsciously and most often while asleep.
There are some factors that are thought to trigger bruxism and they include: young age, higher educational status, smoking, caffeine, alcohol and anti-depressant use. Anxiety and stress also have a significant part to play in the causes of teeth-grinding. It has been found that 70% of bruxism is related to anxiety. Workplace stress and an inability to wind down properly when going to sleep can all lead to this subconscious grinding action at night. It can be a vicious cycle because as you wake with a sore jaw and throbbing head, this is likely to increase your anxiety further.
Your personality will play a part in whether you suffer from this condition or not. How you are able to cope with stress and whether you are more susceptible to it are important factors. Some people are just less resilient to stress and will suffer more from the physical and psychological consequences.
The effects of bruxism can be quite damaging as enamel is permanently worn away from the teeth. Headaches are a byproduct and so too is the disorder of the TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). Muscle aches and facial myalgia can also occur, along with tightening when opening the mouth and a stiffness in your shoulders. Aside from the possibility of wearing away the enamel on your teeth, fracturing a tooth, excess tooth mobility, recession of the gums and inflammation can also occur. If you’re concerned about any of these symptoms then see your dentist straight away. For a Dublin Dentist, visit http://www.docklandsdental.ie/.
Some people are more likely to suffer than others. We’ve already mentioned caffeine, smoking and age but here are some other factors thought to cause bruxism:
- People with sleep disorders such as snoring, sleep apnoea, sleep talking, sleep paralysis and those who experience semi-consciousness between sleeping and awaking
- People who take sleep medication
- People who consume large amounts of alcohol
- People with a stressful lifestyle or occupation
Bruxism is the third most common sleep disorder after insomnia and snoring. The only proven treatments for the condition are mandibular advancement devices, hypnosis and occlusal splints. Splints have been found to be the most successful as they protect the teeth from being worn down. This is a mouth guard worn at night which reduces jaw muscle activity and stops you from worrying about damaging your teeth. Mandibular devices are usually used in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnoea but there is some evidence they can greatly reduce bruxism. However, the side effects include pain so they don’t offer an ideal solution. Meditation and hypnosis do have considerable success for some people but these are not scientifically proven.